British photographic history

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Source magazine reveals declining use of photography archives

The current issue of Source magazine 81 (Winter 2014/15) takes a look at the future of photography archives. It has collated the visitor numbers for some of the UK and Ireland's principal archives - Imperial War Museum, Birmingham Central Library, English Heritage, National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Wales, National Photographic Archive (Ireland), National Media Museum and National Museums (N.I.) - between 2009 and 2014, Nearly all show a decline in user numbers which can possibly be attributed to digitisation and new ways of making those archives available. More cynically, but perhaps realistically, the fact that in many cases the cut in opening hours and staffing have prevented public access. A second chart gives a snapshot of the costs of those archives and the number of staff, where the institution has provided the information.

Sarah Macdonald, formerly curator of the Getty Images Archive and Roger Hargreaves, a curator for the Archive of Modern Conflict in London, are quoted. 

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