A screenshot of Discovery, our catalogue

30 April 2013

Today we have switched off our old catalogue, making Discovery the only way to search our collections.

The Catalogue was a groundbreaking tool when first launched over a decade ago. However, we reached the point where it was no longer practical or cost-effective to maintain or update it, and started work three years ago on building a new catalogue: Discovery.

A new way to search

Discovery has been specifically designed and built to accommodate the large volume of records that we expect to accession in the next few years, in a way that also allows us to develop more features over time. Discovery features an image viewer, which means that users can see a low-resolution version of a digital document (where it exists) before paying to download it, and useful search tools such as filters and tags - read our frequently asked questions for more information about Discovery and its development. During the coming months we will also integrate other archival databases (such as the National Register of Archives) into Discovery, so that users can search for records all in one place.

After launching Discovery 18 months ago, our Chief Executive and Keeper Oliver Morley agreed to continue to run the Catalogue alongside Discovery to give our users more time to become accustomed with the new system and its features. This also allowed us to continue to engage in a dialogue with users about its development, and to collect extensive feedback and suggestions for future enhancements.
 
Discovery now offers nearly all of the Catalogue's most-used functionality, along with many other new features. Any remaining differences between the two systems are either included in our development plan, as we continue to enhance Discovery, or are little-used and will not be included.

Catalogue switch-off

Given our very tight financial constraints (between 2010 and 2015 we will have had a 31% cut in our budget), and the need to process the huge volume of digital records which we are beginning to receive, we can no longer afford to support two systems. We have therefore now switched off the Catalogue so that Discovery is the only way to search and download - where available - records in our vast collections.

Chief Executive and Keeper Oliver Morley said: 'I am confident that now is the right time to switch off the Catalogue. We have provided time for our users to become familiar with Discovery and to feed into the development process, which has helped us to improve and develop the new system. The old Catalogue could no longer meet our requirements, particularly given the number of digital records we are beginning to accession, and Discovery enables users a new way to explore our records, with features far beyond simply searching our collections.'

We will continue to collect feedback on Discovery and release new versions on an ongoing basis, both to fix any minor bugs that are identified and to add new functionality if there is sufficient demand from our users. Please send your feedback by using the feedback tab in Discovery, or email discovery@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk

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