There has been a disturbing new development from Northamptonshire Archives which is planning to charge £31.50 per hour to access their archives. This price is just to visit the archives and conduct your own research.
Free access to the archives will be limited to a mere 12 hours per week.
This will have a massive impact on the way that we use the archives either as amateur family historians or as professionals.
- Access to the free slots will be highly contended which will put people off in the long term and make them more reliant on online sources. This reduction in visitors would then provide a rationale for further cuts in the archives service.
- Genealogy will become a hobby from which people are excluded due to the cost. Finding the correct record you need is rarely a straightforward process and so you will incur major costs.
- Hiring a professional researcher will also beome cost prohibitive if they have to add the cost of accessing the archives onto their hourly rate.
- There should be the right to access freely the documents that record our lives and those of our ancestors and members of our local community. Local history would also struggle with limited access to archives and we would miss out on the rich tapestry of information that they have to offer.
A petition opposing the plans and calling for a rethink has been set up by Dr. Mary Ann Lund from the University of Leicester. If you do one thing today, please seriously consider signing the petition – it is available at https://www.change.org/p/northamptonshire-county-council-northamptonshire-county-council-don-t-charge-for-visiting-archives.