Libraries and Local Studies are important to Family Historians. They provide an important resource for people to use and they can provide links to commercial sites such as Ancestry and other records on line for people who are looking into their family story and where they fit into society past and present.
In these days of economic problems Libraries are under increasing threat of closure by Councils. The Islington Tribune reports "TOWN Hall chiefs have issued a bleak warning that libraries, children’s centres and youth clubs would have to be abandoned completely if the government presses ahead with its cuts programme".
Phil Bradley, president of the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), said: "I feel that 2013 is going to be as bleak, if not bleaker than 2012. The Bookseller He estimates that some 300 Libraries could be closed this year.
Other ways of using and saving Libraries are being looked at.
Janene Cox, president of the Society of Chief Librarians, has said: "I think it is definitely the most challenging era for all public services but I do think it is during these periods when you do see real innovation and creativity. I think continued challenging financial environment for all local authorities will mean the acceleration of different service models emerging – co-locations, community managed libraries, social enterprises, mutuals etc." The Bookseller
In Kent the picture is not so clear and it is more difficult to determine what KCC plans are. In England there are cases where Libraries have been handed over to local communities. For instance Gateshead has decided to transfer five libraries to volunteer groups, while York is considering passing its 13 libraries to a charitable body. The London Borough of Bexley has transferred its Bexley Village Library to the charity Greener Bexley who become responsible for the management and upkeep.
Customers of the Library service will have to apply to join the Bexley Village Library as it is for all intents and purposes now separate and independent of the Council's Library network. It remains to be seen if this handing over of Libraries to local communities will work in the long run and whether or not they can maintain any sort of financial support from Councils.
NWKFHS operates its Society Library and Resource Centre in conjunction with Kent County Council Libraries. As a Society we are very active in working along with local Library Branches. The Society is also aware of how important Libraries are to many of our members and to the local communities.
We encourage people to volunteer in a Public Library or other research facility and many of our members help as volunteers in Libraries and other research facilities with enquiries about family history research. We offer help and assistance to them and other non Society members who volunteer to help the public at Libraries. The NWKFHS Publicity Co-ordinator, Mike Weeks is keen to make sure such volunteers are fully informed about the ways in which the Society can offer help and support. If you know a volunteer please draw this to their attention. Mike Weeks can be contacted by email at Publicity at NWKFHS
Saturday 9 February is National Libraries Day. However, there seems to be a silence on how KCC Libraries will mark the Day. A briefing document to Kent library staff said: "We will mark National Libraries Day in the best way possible - by continuing to deliver the best quality service to our very many satisfied customers." Source: The Bookseller In other words very little will be done to support the day. If you would like to read more about the plans for Libraries by KCC see Kent Online The National Libraries website can be found at NLW