The Northamptonshire (England) Record Office reportedly has made drastic reductions in their services, all without any public consultation. My information is all second-hand. However, I am told that the Record Office management announced last week that they are cutting free access to the public search room to three mornings a week. Previously, it was open three days per week.
Free access is now available only on Tuesday-Thursday mornings, 9am-1pm, and on 7 Saturdays in the year.
If anyone wants to use the archives outside those hours they have to pay £31.50 an hour (roughly $41.37 US per hour).
As you might expect, this announcement caused an uproar amongst genealogists, historians, and others who use the services of the Northamptonshire Record Office. There is an online petition to Save Northamptonshire Record Office at http://bit.ly/2u54klq.
The page for the online petition states:
severely limits access to archives of international importance;
stops academics, students, and family and local historians from conducting proper, extended research;
prevents local residents from connecting with their heritage, and charges them twice for a service they already pay for through council tax;
restricts visitors from further afield, who want to make the most of their time;
creates a two-tier system, with charges prohibitive for most users.
This decision goes against the spirit of open access in research, and sets a dangerous precedent for repositories of public documents.
The County Council’s plan for 2014-19 pledged to ‘continue to celebrate Northamptonshire’s rich cultural heritage’. Please hold them to that pledge by asking them to reverse this terrible decision.
As of the time I am writing these words, the online petition already has 3,362 signed supporters. To succeed, it needs many more.
If you have an opinion about the reduction in hours, please sign the online petition to Save Northamptonshire Record Office at http://bit.ly/2u54klq.