Save Doncaster Archives, Too

The focus of the Save Doncaster Libraries campaign and much media attention up to now has largely been on the branch library closures proposed by Doncaster council. However, the Archives section of the library service is also set to suffer as a result of these measures.

Doncaster Library and Information Services currently employs four members of staff at Doncaster Archives: a full-time Community History Manager (Senior Archivist), a full-time Archivist, a full-time Senior Archives Assistant, and a full-time Archives Assistant. Alarmingly, the one professional post is to be lost (it has effectively been abolished — this is contrary to the library managers’ recent acknowledgment that too many professional posts were lost in the last restructure), which means that the Archives will be forced to operate with only one professional member of staff. In essence, the remaining archivist will be expected to do the work of two professionals; this includes archival cataloguing, outreach work, frontline service, the development of online access. Inevitably, it will be impossible to maintain the same level of service at the Archives if this proposal comes to pass. What is more, the situation could be worsened even further if, as expected, Archives’ staff are required to cover at other library branches to make up for staff shortages.

Photo by joguldi on Flickr

We can't let DMBC lay waste to our heritage

Archives are an incredibly important part of a library service. They contain valuable information on the make-up of the local area and how it has got to where it is today, irreplacable documents pertaining to family history, local political history, environmental and building history. For many years, Doncaster’s archives have struggled due to redundancies, under-funding, and having to cope with a delapidated building that isn’t fit for purpose. The council have failed to understand how archives play such a vital part in the culture, history and civic pride of a town, in the same way that they have failed to appreciate the value of the rest of the library service. As a result, the library service has failed and lost even more of its budget.

If only Doncaster libraries had managers who were able to advocate for the library service and all its functions, not just “customer service”. Maybe then we’d have an engaging and informative online local studies resource, like Wolverhampton’s. It makes you wonder, how could a comprehensive and efficient library service ever be delivered by unskilled volunteers?

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7 Responses to Save Doncaster Archives, Too

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Save Doncaster Archives, Too | -- Topsy.com

  2. Talk about mission impossible. I am a volunteer archivist for our village of 2000 people and I know how hard it is to keep on top of things so to have only one archivist for the whole of Doncaster’s heritage is crazy.

    Helena Pielichaty

  3. JohnF says:

    Our town’s archives are irreplaceable. If we don’t invest in the management and care of our collections now, they will be irretrievably lost. Cultural vandalism.

  4. Tosh McDonald Vice President ASLEF. says:

    When the Doncaster branch of ASLEF the train drivers union celebrated it’s centenary in 1989 the Doncaster Archives were invaluble to us. Now as National Vice President I and ASLEFS will do all we can to support the fight to save the archives now. They were there when we needed them!

  5. librariesgaveuspower says:

    I worked in the heritage sector for over thirty years and am glad that I retired when I did. As usual, our cultural services are being cut to pieces while the bankers continue to line the pockets of their Saville Row suits.

    What politicians and library managers don’t seem to realise is that the archive service is essentially the council’s memory. The proposal to reduce the level of service currently offered can result in only one thing: the gradual, depressing erasure of this memory.

    Furthermore, are we to assume from these proposals that volunteers are to be entrusted with tasks normally undertaken by qualified librarians and archive professionals? What an absolutely stupid and short-sighted idea. Don’t get me wrong, volunteers contribute massively to the development of information management services. But can they conduct literature searches or answer questions on copyright law, as a librarian might? Can they deal with Data Protection and Freedom of Information requests, manage access to sensitive records, or provide advice on the preservation of historic documents, in the same way an archivist can? I suspect not, but what do I know? Less than Eric Pickles and his cronies it would seem.

    We should be preserving our past for the future of this country, not dismantling it in such a barbaric and thoughtless manner.

  6. Toby says:

    Libraries and Archives are wonderful places to inspire children to learn about the world around them. I know at Doncaster Archives you can learn about our town’s history. Cutting this service back is the wrong decision. The Council should be inspiring our children to achieve more, not reducing their opportunities to learn.

  7. Pingback: Archives Hub › Voices for the Library

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