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2018 visitor survey

Results of the 2018 LMA Visitor Survey

During the period September - November 2018 a total of 106 record offices across the UK surveyed their onsite users in the 14th Visitors’ Survey organised by the Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland) in conjunction with The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). London Metropolitan Archives conducted its survey either side of the Annual Closure fortnight at the end of October. The results are now in and Elizabeth Scudder reveals the main findings from the LMA Survey.

The Survey of Visitors to UK archives looks at archive services provided from the adult individual’s point of view. The survey captures the visitor journey by understanding

  • preparations taken in advance of their visit
  • impressions of staff, services and facilities
  • the consequences of their visit.

Although the questionnaire has evolved over the years, the same survey questions were used in the 2018 survey as for both the 2014 and 2016 surveys, which has allowed for comparisons between the years.

The main findings from our survey were as follows:

  • Overall satisfaction with LMA remained high, with a score of 9 out of 10, an increase since 2016
  • The average amount of time spent at the archive was 3½ hours, again an increase from previous surveys
  • 19% of respondents were first time visitors
  • Around 50% of respondents that had visited the archive before were regular users of the archive
  • Although the most popular reason to visit was still to conduct family history research (32%) this was a decrease of 15% since 2016, no doubt as a result of the increasing amount of material which is now available digitally via LMA’s partnership with Ancestry. Other popular reasons for visiting were to do local history research (21%) and academic research (31%), which both showed an increase from last time
  • More researchers are now preparing for their visit by consulting the website or searching the catalogue to find information and to reserve documents 
  • Satisfaction with LMA’s staff was high. Scores for availability of staff, attitude of staff and for quality and appropriateness of staff’s advice all were up from the last survey to 9.7 out of 10, an increase of 1%.
  • There were a number of comments regarding seating, light levels and navigating around the online catalogue, all of which are currently being looked at with a view to making improvements later in the year (2019-20).

It is interesting to see the wide research spectrum of visitors to LMA, and a few examples directly quoted from the survey demonstrate this:

  • Researching family history. I am not online at home. I find it very helpful coming to the LMA
  • MA in film - I am studying film archives/preservation, archiving and exhibition research for thesis on film censorship in London cinemas
  • Cholera outbreak, Tooting 1849
  • Examining life within the community of Sutton’s Hospital in Smithfield (The Charterhouse)
  • Architectural research involving building act case files, maps and occupancy records for historic building consultancy
  • I am writing a dissertation on the history of education and I‘m reading archives of London charity schools.

In the autumn of 2019 LMA will be once again undertaking a survey of distance enquirers with the next onsite survey due to be held in 2020. Thank you to all respondents past and future for their time in completing a survey form. The information is really helpful to LMA in identifying where we can do better and making service improvements.

17 July 2019
Last Modified:
31 July 2019