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A leading local history blogger had questioned plans to close Lichfield Record Office.
Staffordshire County Council has begun a consultation over plans to centralise the region’s archives.
But the move would see the closure of Lichfield Record Office with local residents only able to access digital versions of documents.
But Kate Gomez, who runs the popular Lichfield Lore blog, has questioned the thinking behind the decision.
“It seems from the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service 2012/13 annual report that demand for access to original documents from those using the service remains high,” she said. “However, it seems there will be no facility to access any original documents at Lichfield if records are centralised.
“Anyone wishing to access these – either because they are not digitised or available on microfiche – or because the individual prefers to work from the originals – will need to travel to Stafford, a round trip of almost 40 miles by car, an hour away by train from Lichfield City, and an hour and a half away by bus.
“The proposal suggests that there will be no increase in opening hours at Stafford, with only one late evening and a Saturday morning.”
Residents are being asked for their views on the changes, but Kate believes more questions need to be answered before users of the Record Office can make a complete judgment on the proposals.
“While I support the digitisation of archives, I do wonder how long it will take make the key collections available at the proposed Local and Family History Centre at Lichfield?” she said.
“I would also be interested to hear more about the planned facilities at this new centre – how many computers and machines would be available for use and would professional staff be on hand to assist and advise?
“The current staff at the Record Office are one of its greatest assets and as well as losing the records, we shall also lose their local knowledge and expertise.
“Two of the objectives for the service’s current three year plan are ‘Engagement with Staffordshire’s communities to strengthen their sense of identity and place’ and ‘Improving and promoting user access to Staffordshire’s collections’, which seems at odds with this proposal which would result in the transfer of part of the city’s heritage to Stafford and a reduction in accessibility to the collections for the people of Lichfield.
“I really hope that anyone interested in Lichfield’s history and heritage takes the time to read through the proposal and makes their views known.”