The annual report of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland for 2003/04 has been published, reminding us that the principal functions of the National Archives of Scotland are to select public records regarded as worthy of permanent preservation, to acquire other historical records of national importance and to make suitable arrangements for the disposal of other material. It also promotes public access to the information preserved and provides advice and support to owners and custodians of records held outwith the National Archives Although this institution is usually associated with the past and with older forms of communication, the main archive catalogue this year, containing over 2.5 million entries, went on the Internet in prototype form. In addition, some 3 million digital images of wills before 1901 are available for viewing in the search rooms or remotely and there is a current programme to convert church records in the same way.
During 2003/04 the courts continued to send large transmissions of records to the Archives and pressure upon storage space, both in the Archives and in the court service, is now causing serious concern. For example, over 200 metres of records from Glasgow Sheriff Court, which accounted for only 4 years of that court's activities (1974/1977) was received by the Archives. However, this enormous inflow is partly balanced by the ongoing operation to dispose of papers and, for example, the civil court processes for Glasgow (174.2 metres) were reduced by 91.7% during the past year. The pressure on space is also relieved to some extent by the use of micro film and digital images. The National Archives works closely with the General Register Office for Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon to form the Scottish Family History Service which, from 2006, shall have its own location within the Register House Campus and, from 2005, a joint Internet service is to be launched. The registration of title has now taken effect upon the number of copy Sasines writs ordered so that, from an all time high of 163,861 in 2002, the number of requests, despite a buoyant housing market, has fallen back to the 1998/1999 level. Your reporter has enquired as to whether the National Archives would be interested in the many sasines writs which have accumulated in legal offices since the inception of land registry but was informed that any sasines writs for modern titles should simply be destroyed confidentially but any documents pre dating the Register of Sasines i.e. pre 1617, would be of great interest to the National Archives. For further information you might visit the web site at www.nas.gov.uk although the interestingly entitled item "Farewell to feudalism" eluded your reporter's browsing skills.