Times are tough for cash strapped local authorities as they seek to provide a plethora of essential services. Unsurprising then, that Enfield Council has been looking for areas in which it can find economies. One such appears to be Enfield Local Studies Centre and Museum.
The Enfield Local Studies Centre identifies, acquires, and preserves archival materials that document the history of the London Borough of Enfield, and makes records available for the benefit of all. If you haven’t been there personally, you will have to take my word for it that it’s run by an amazing staff, who have a brilliant knowledge and a genuine enjoyment in revealing the uncovered history of the borough.
The archive probably doesn’t bring in much hard cash directly, but it performs wonders in developing a sense of place in Enfield, working across the generations and helping promote the borough, and helping others to do so. Palmers Green Jewel in the North wouldn’t have anything like its current content without help from the team, in particular in sourcing photos and references.
Until 18 October, Enfield Council is running a consultation on big changes to the archive. The aim is to digitize the entire collection so that it will be available online, but – to avoid a drop in service while that digitization is happening – if the plans go ahead you will only be able to visit by appointment. It will be exciting to be able to access the archive online but once the digitization is complete there is no indication of what might happen to the service and the team, and that is where my concerns for the service really set in in earnest.
A petition has been set up via 38 Degrees – I am not sure that it is quite accurate in that the petitioners seem to think that the intention is to make the digital archive available via Ancestry.co.uk, which is not the case from my reading of the consultation information. Enfield Council has also not explicitly said that the service will be cut, although obviously that is a reasonable fear. You can sign the petition here – more importantly, if you care about the archive, please respond to the consultation by clicking here.