Irish Archive and Library Reforms Worry Genealogists

 Irish Archive and Library Reforms Worry Genealogists

The IGRS has issued the following press release and I have to say the the Society of Genealogists most definitely shares their worries -

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) is concerned that a so-called merger of the National Archives “into” the National Library could diminish these vital heritage services.

Steven Smyrl, IGRS chairman, says that while the IGRS recognises the need for savings across the board in Irish public services, it is concerned that with two bodies under one director, competition for resources could be fierce.

“The proposed area of control is simply too vast, whether or not, as the Government proposes, both institutions are to retain their separate identities. The Government’s plan is further complicated by reference to the possible sharing of services between the National Library and the National Museum which could dilute the services still further.”

Smyrl acknowledges that there are savings to be made through the pooling of public services resources. “Conservation and administration are just two such areas that immediately spring to mind, but while libraries and museums might appear to be similar they are actually very different service providers.

“Staff trained in the care and control of archive materials require quite different skills to those working in a library and economies of scale will not be found by requiring flexibility from staff to work across borders in the proposed new set-up. It is crucial that specialist knowledge and training be recognised as essential in service delivery at national institutions. The historians, academics, researchers and genealogists using them rely heavily upon the staff’s expertise and knowledge.

“The IGRS welcomes the Government’s initiative to see where savings can be made but advises caution if irreparable damage to public service is to be avoided.“

 

Notes

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) is a learned Society established in 1936 in the Office of the York Herald, London. The founding members were deeply concerned at the loss of much material of genealogical value; their priority was to collect copies of materials compiled prior to the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. The core of the Society’s unique reference library was formed from the personal collection of the Irish genealogist, Father Wallace Clare, the founder of the Society. It has been greatly expanded by subsequent donations from members.

The IGRS aims to promote and encourage the study of Irish genealogy and to collect books and manuscripts of genealogical value.

Contact: igrsoc@yahoo.ie

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National Library of Ireland Launches New Sources Online Directory

The National Library of Ireland’s has launched a new digital directory of Irish studies called Sources

The National Library of Ireland’s new digital directory of Irish studies  means researchers can now retrieve any one of up to 196,574 catalogue records of materials housed in the National Library of Ireland or in universities and research institutions around the world. Subjects covered in the materials range from art, architecture and archaeology through economics and genealogy to history, politics, literature, science and zoology. This is a first class resource for genealogists looking for the records of landowners and estates in Ireland where our ancestors may have been tenants.

As a result of being able to source this information on line, the initial research period is now reduced from at least several days to just a few minutes.

The ‘Sources’ digital directory pinpoints exactly what Irish interest material is held where – information which previously could only be accessed by consulting the bulky printed catalogues in either the National Library of Ireland in Dublin or one of a limited number of university libraries or major research institutions holding the complete set of printed records. With the click of a mouse anyone can now access the Sources database via a PC and can start the process of researching what material exists on a particular topic, and in what library or institution around the world that material is held.

For the first time, it will be possible to search the manuscript and periodicals records together. As a result, someone doing research on their local area might find information about manuscript maps, estate papers and business records for local shopkeepers, as well as details for articles in local history journals. Once the records are found, the information can be easily emailed or shared to bookmarking and social networking sites such as Delicious and Twitter. Other features of ‘Sources’ include an interactive map showing the location of all the archives and libraries around the world where the Irish material listed is stored. Full contact details for each outlet are also provided.

The current process of digitising the original ‘Hayes Sources’ data represents an investment of several years’ work by the National Library of Ireland. Commenting on the launch, Aongus Ó hAonghusa, Director, National Library of Ireland noted:

“For decades, the original Manuscripts Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation, or ‘Hayes Sources’ as it is more commonly known, proved to be a tried and trusted resource for researchers in any and all fields of study relating to Ireland and its people, at home and abroad.

“Now, it has been given a new life, and a slightly less unwieldy name, in an online arena. The unprecedented opportunity it will provide for current and future generations of researchers worldwide to find Irish source material from their desktops, wherever they may be, would surely have pleased Richard Hayes and his dedicated team who first embarked on this mammoth indexing task almost 70 years ago.”  Hayes work was originally pubished as  Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals. The original hard copy of Manuscript Sources was contained in 11 volumes produced in 1965, with a further three volumes produced in a supplement in 1975. That project created a portal to a vast amount of manuscripts housed in repositories in Ireland and elsewhere. Periodicals Sources was published in nine volumes in 1970 and includes bibliographic references to articles appearing in some 157 publications, the earliest of these commencing in 1785.

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