Friday, 5 November 2010

Mystery researcher: National Army Museum

Years ago I went to the National Army Museum when I was researching my PhD thesis. It was real ordeal getting a reader's ticket then I was patronised by the staff on the desk. Of course I didn't find anything, but even now I remember the trip as one of the worst experiences of my career as a researcher.

Fortunately matters are now totally different. To start with there is a new reading room - the Templar Stidy Centre - which was comfortable and well laid out. It is in the basement and there is a lift if you need it..

The staff was knowledgeable and helpful (and offered a great tip about what to look for) and not very interested in my reader's ticket. I spent three hours there and there was a number of visitors - a couple of people listening to their collection of oral history tapes, somebody researching their family tree and lady who brought in a badge she wanted identified. The duty archivist tried to identify it and when he couldn't called down a curator to help. I fear this would not have been even considered in the old days.

My only grumble was the online catalogue which not yet on the NAM's website and isn't terribly powerful or user friendly. That said it came up with some excellent leads.

Room 8; staff 8; ease of access 8; catalogues 5

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