Information needs of historic houses
2009-03-13T11:15:54Z (GMT) by
In the United Kingdom (UK) historic houses form part of the tourism and leisure market. Heritage encompasses a wide variety of establishments including historic houses, historic gardens, heritage centres, town centres, countryside and museums. The UK has a vast cultural resource in this respect and the research intends to concentrate on establishments that are known as the "built heritage" and that are often described as "historic" or "country houses". Millions of visitors annually visit properties to experience an insight into earlier periods of British history and culture. Many operate similarly to small businesses and often have a more diverse range of needs. A model was developed for the study to show the information needs of historic houses and the information seeking behaviour of those managing historic houses. Data have been collected both via questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaires involved the investigation of those managing (owners, administrators, custodians) heritage establishments. The interview questions were put directly to individuals responsible for properties from a geographically dispersed area, with different categories of ownership (English Heritage, National Trust, private, local authority) and with different levels of visitor traffic. The survey focused on diversity of activities, information provision, use of information, developments (including technology) and collaboration. Historic houses have been part of a growing sector, allied to the growth in the leisure industry, which has led to increasing demands on their time and finances. In a world that increasingly provides more information than can be handled effectively by any one individual, properties need to be able to make effective use of this to protect the heritage for future generations. Building on the empirical work recommendations are made on policy making, education, audits, co-operation and technology to improve the provision and management of information within the sector to support these establishments. The research represents the first study to investigate the existing situation of historic houses and their information needs in the UK, to try and provide an overview of the sector and information provision and how that might be improved.