Birmingham Archives, Heritage & Photography Public Consultation

Well my first blog for the Iron Room has certainly been a long time coming! And what am I doing? Asking for your help! I will endeavour to do another blog very soon, and make it one that talks about something very special in the collections… you’ll just have to wait and see!

As many of you will know, the Library of Birmingham has undergone some significant changes over the last few months, and in response to those changes we have had to address the way we offer our services because we can no longer do everything we used to do in the way we used to do it.

As such we in the Archives, Heritage & Photography department have been working hard to review what we have offered, and to develop a future service offer that takes into account the challenges facing the Library of Birmingham as a whole. As part of this we are looking at how we deliver services, and at the moment we want to consult with you, our customers and stakeholders, to get your views and achieve the best possible outcome with one particular aspect.

As part of our response to the challenges, the Archives, Heritage & Photography service has, through the recent staffing restructure, been consolidated into one service area operating two public counters on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham: the open access counter in the Heritage Research Area (HRA) and the supervised research room (the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research) where original and rare documents and publications are served.

Just some examples of items from the Early & Fine Printing Colletion that we look after in AHP.

Just some examples of items from the Early & Fine Printing Collection that we look after in AHP.

Since our focus is on developing a long-term sustainable service for our customers and stakeholders that is both fit for the future and is feasible with our present resources, the Archives, Heritage & Photography service area as a whole will remain open for the same opening hours as the rest of the Library of Birmingham.  However, we do not have the capacity to operate both the HRA counter and the Wolfson Centre counter for all of those opening hours, or indeed the opening hours we have had for the Wolfson Centre until now, and this consultation is about which Wolfson Centre opening hours best suit our customers.

Please download the consultation document here and return it to us with your views to the address at the bottom of the page.

You can also complete our online survey to have your say.

Whilst we need to address the fact that we cannot deliver services in the same way as we have done, we can reassure customers that the same set of excellent staff will be operating both the HRA counter and the Wolfson Centre counter, so although opening hours for both will differ, you will still be able to ask them for advice, consult catalogues and knowledgeable staff, arrange appointments, and request material for that appointment.

Please do take part in the consultation, we very much want your help to get the opening hours of the Wolfson Centre as right as we possibly can with the capacity that we have at our disposal. We’ve given you a bit of background to the consultation on the form, with information about how you have used us over the last year or so – so please do take a look. The closing date for the consultation is the 11th October 2015, with a view to implementing the changes in November 2015.

Thanks for your support.

Corinna Rayner
Archives & Collections Manager

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9 responses to “Birmingham Archives, Heritage & Photography Public Consultation

  1. Reblogged this on Greenhill Genealogy and commented:
    An opportunity to voice your thoughts on the future delivery of Birmingham Archives, Heriage & Photography service. Public opinion on the opening hours of the Wolfson Centre (Archives Searchroom) is now being sought – deadline 11th October.
    As an ex-member of staff of Birmingham Archives & now a user of the services in my role as freelance genealogist & archives researcher I shall certainly be responding to the consultation. I am understandably angry at the way the service has been severely cut and so many experienced & knowledgeable staff have been made redundant. Those decisions cannot, now, be undone. But the remaining staff can only deliver a high quality level of service if the opening hours are further reduced. The task is to ensure that the future opening hours maximise access to the greatest number of people- & sadly that realistically means the Wolfson Centre won’t be able to open every Saturday.

  2. A&H should advertise an advance booking service for researchers needing in-depth help with their work. Will be back on this one in a few weeks time. Good luck to you all. Niky Rathbone

  3. As far as I can tell the form cannot be completed digitally (boxes aren’t check boxes) and the only return address is an email one. Unless I’ve got this wrong you need to fix this.

    • Thanks for flagging this up. The form is a PDF document designed to be downloaded, filled out and either scanned and emailed, or posted. If you scroll down right to the bottom of the webpage, you will find both our postal and email addresses. However, to make it easier, there is also now an on-line survey available via the blog. I hope this helps.

  4. Pingback: Grand Central Opening | The Iron Room

  5. Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the consultation online which was very helpful and easy to do. As a relativeIy recent user I have come late to the restructuring and I am dismayed at what has been lost in terms of knowledge, capability and capacity, and also the effects this has had on people’s careers. I have been so grateful for the help and support I have received from staff and the access to unexpected sources and the insights they have given me. I realise that for now all that can be achieved is a retrenchment of services around the options being consulted on, but I hope in future that the Library of Birmingham will be given better finances and can build itself up again and that staff can again have long term career options and better working conditions. Good luck with the consultation.

  6. I’ve completed the survey; easy enough technically, but very difficult to select the least bad option. I know you are all working hard to make the best of a very bad job. As a user, and a depositor, I’m really angry at what’s been done to you, and full of admiration for your dedication and resilience. I hope the campaign to reverse these and other public sector cuts gains momentum. For now I can only reinforce the suggestion that advance booking should be strongly promoted. Although the loss of regular Saturday opening is regretable, I realise it’s inevitable. However, those coming to the Wolfson Centre do book in advance, so I guess negotiations may be more complex in some cases. For how long do you propose to operate whatever is decided upon before reviewing it, and will you keep records of the reaction of those seeking appointments, and to what extent anyone is actually prevented from using the service?
    Best to you all.

    • Thanks for your comments and completing the survey. Your questions have been passed on to a member of staff who will get back to you.

  7. Pingback: Birmingham Archives & Collections: New Opening Hours | The Iron Room

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