Campaigners hoping to keep Lichfield Record Office open have been dealt a blow.
Staffordshire County Council has agreed plans to centralise its archive services – despite opposition from city author Annette Rubery and local history blogger Kate Gomez.
The change will see the Lichfield Record Office replaced by a new “local history and family history centre”.
County councillor Mike Lawrence insisted the move would open up the records to a wider audience.
“We have a fascinating archives collection in the county and I want even more people to be able to enjoy them,” he said. “I am delighted that Cabinet have approved the proposals, which will now allow us to get on and develop more detailed plans for the new centre.
“This was our preferred option, allowing us to deliver a much better service to all our visitors, while helping to protect our records for many years to come.
“Before we move any of the collections we are working with Findmypast to digitise over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds. This means that visitors will get free access from Staffordshire Libraries as well as the Archive Service offices.”
The centralised record service will be based at an extended site in Stafford.
Kate Gomez, who runs the popular Lichfield Lore blog, had previously raised concerns about the change to a new history centre in the city .
“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.”