Request for number of TNA staff, number of items held, percentage of digitised items, and details about the Winsford site

FOI request reference: F0053136
Publication date: July 2018


Could you let me know rough figures for:

• Total employee numbers here and in Cheshire
• Total number of items held in each location
• Rough %age of your items that are now computerised
• Is Cheshire a working or deceased salt mine?




• The headcount for TNA staff as of 27th June was 516. All TNA staff are based at Kew. There are no TNA staff at the site in Cheshire as it is run by an external company.

• It is difficult to supply a definitive set of figures for the number of items that we hold. This is because the records that make up our collections vary considerably in size and format, and one physically distinct ‘item’ does not always correspond to one meaningful record. We have therefore interpreted your request for the number of ‘items’ to refer to physically discrete producible items on our shelves. An item may be a single record or may include multiple records identifiable on our catalogue. Our databases show that

• There are 7,936,627 items in the repositories at Kew.
• There are 622,927 items in the repositories at Winsford.
Please note that these figures constitute the number of orderable items linked to a specific location. We usually say that we hold approximately 11 million records. This discrepancy is accounted for by the practicalities of storing records safely and delivering them to researchers. For instance, one record may be divided between two boxes, or several smaller records stored in one box. Additionally, often a record will be split into multiple ‘items’ which are not orderable and therefore have no location, whilst the parent record is the orderable unit with the repository location.

• Calculating the number of items that are digitised is problematic as there are issues to consider such as what constitutes a single item. However, our guidance states that an estimated 5% of the items held by TNA are digitised.

• The storage facility in Winsford is located in an operational salt mine, but it is isolated in the historic mining section several kilometres away from the operational salt mine. The storage area has its own dedicated access permissions as well as temperature and humidity controls.