Request & Response
Please can you make available the statistical data behind the new ordering procedures that will be trialled in 2020. This would include the 4 month trial held between April and July 2019 and the wider usage statistics that have been used to decide the new procedures.
Specifically, I would expect the 4 month survey to detail the number of visits, unique users and documents issued, and the averages that have been compiled from this information, as well as the comments made by users who were surveyed.
It would also be helpful to see the minutes of the meetings where the new trial policy was discussed and finalised and the basis upon which these decisions have been made. This relates to both the upper limit on documents that any one user can consult each day, and the choice of ordering and delivery slots.
Your request asks for information from the ‘4 month trial held between April and July 2019’ including ‘…comments made by users who were surveyed’. For clarification the four month period referred to in the news story ‘Changes to document ordering’ published on The National Archives website on the 07 January 2020 relates to the 4 month period in which data was extracted and analysed to inform the proposed document ordering trial.
The trial period for the changes to same-day document ordering will commence on Tuesday 31 March 2020 and continue for 6 months. It will be during this time frame that The National Archives will be gathering feedback from users in the manner of feedback forms. As the trial period has not yet commenced The National Archives does not hold this information at this time.
I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request and that we are pleased to be able to provide this information to you below and in the attached documents.
This information has been taken from our document ordering system.
Document Services trial 2020 – statistical data (Annexe A)
1. Average production times and percentage of public on demand produced in under 1 hour Apr 2017 – July 2019. This chart shows the average document delivery time for public on demand orders and the percentage of these documents that are delivered within the 1 hour production target.
2. Number of advance orders Vs on demand. This graph shows the relationship between public on demand 1 hour document requests and orders placed in advance.
3. Advance order numbers by month. This shows the increase in advance orders by month and the comparison between the same months each year.
4. Percentage advance orders shows the percentage of public productions that have been ordered in advance of a visit
5. Advance orders by % shows the percentage of public orders placed in advance of a visit by month and the comparison between the same months each year
6. Readers placing more than 12 on demand orders per day. This provides the following information:
- Daily number of readers that ordered more than 12 on demand documents on each day between 2nd April 2019 and 31st July 2019.
- The number of documents ordered by the highest on demand user for that day.
- Total number of on demand documents ordered by all users who ordered more than 12 on demand documents on that day
- Average number of on demand documents by all users who ordered more than 12 on demand documents on that day
- Total number of on demand documents ordered by all users for that day (including users who ordered fewer than 12 documents)
- Percentage of documents that those users ordering more than 12 on demand documents ordered against the grand total of on demand documents ordered for that day
Top 200 users on demand vs advance document ordering (Annexe B)
The National Archives reviewed the ordering history of the top 200 archive users for this period. This information can be found within this attachment.
Please note that a column entitled ‘readers’ ticket numbers’ has been withheld from this document under section 40 (2) (Personal Information) of the Freedom of Information Act. This is because the numbers are unique to individuals and could be used to identify individual users. (See below for further information on section 40)
Users in the reading rooms (times throughout the day) (Annexe C)
The statistical information in this attachment was used to identify the core hours when the majority of our users use the document reading rooms. This was used to help determine the on-demand document ordering times in the trial system.
During the data collection period (01 April 2019 – 31 July 2019) the total number of unique users was 4960.
Meetings (minutes and summaries)
The trial of changes to same-day document ordering were discussed at The National Archives Executive Team meeting, The National Archives Board meeting and at the User Advisory Group meeting.
Minutes or summaries for these meetings are published on our website in line with our transparency agenda. Links to the pages on our website where this information is published have been provided below.
Please note that the summary for The National Archives Board meeting at which the document ordering trial was discussed (November 2019) is intended for future publication and so exempt from disclosure under section 22 of the FOI Act. This information will be made available on the linked page in due course.
The National Archives regularly publishes information relating to our public services including statistical information on the production of documents on our transparency pages.
Section 40(2): Personal Information where the applicant is not the data subject. The Data Protection Legislation prevents personal information from release if it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the subject had officially served notice that releasing it would cause them damage or distress. In this case the exemption applies because the information could potentially identify individual users and their personal data.
Further guidance can be found at:
Section 22: Information intended for future publication. Provides an exemption for information that is intended to be published in the future. The public authority must, at the time of the request, hold the information and intend that it or ‘any other person’ will publish it in future. This means that it must have a settled expectation that the information will be published at some future date.
Further guidance can be found at: