What is Archives+?
Manchester Central Library closed in July for a refurbishment
which is expected to be completed in 2013. When it re-opens it will accommodate a partnership consisting of:
- Manchester Archives and Local Studies
Greater Manchester County Record Office
Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society
Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre
North West Film Archive
British Film Institute Mediatheque
Archives+ will provide a one-stop-shop for family and local historians and in addition to the partner organisations
there will be arrangements with:
Manchester Register Office for the supply of BMD certificates
Genealogical Society of Utah for access to their vast library of genealogical resources
The National Archives for access to their expanding online resources
How does the partnership affect MLFHS?
MLFHS will be a partner in Archives+ and will relocate from Clayton House
into the refurbished building. This does not mean that the Society will lose
its identity. It will continue as a charity run and funded by its members
and continuing its activities much as at present. The major difference is
that we will not operate a separate family history library and we will
provide an enhanced Help Desk service for non-members.
Why does MLFHS wish to join the partnership?
The Trustees (Executive Committee) believe that the proposal to join the
partnership offers the most secure future option for the Society. Our lease
on Clayton House expires at the end of 2011 and this requires us to make an
The financial position of the Society is
becoming increasingly uncertain. Declining income and escalating overheads mean that the
present accommodation cannot be retained by simply renewing the lease when it
expires. Even reducing the size of the Resource Centre is likely only to put off the day
when this can no longer be supported.
The opening of Archives+ in 2013 will, if we
do not join the partnership, present a threat. It is reasonable to
assume that Archives+ would be active in promoting its services to family
historians. It will be difficult to convince potential members of the
benefit of membership in the face of a new, one-stop-shop for family
Membership of the partnership is seen as a
positive move. Ongoing negotiations suggest that we will obtain
accommodation at a substantial reduction in cost from present levels. There
will be considerably improved opportunities for transcription and indexing
projects and the several partners are committed to working on joint projects
and activities. Finally, we will be based in a centre which is planning to
increase its present 1.2 million annual visitors to over 2 million. This
will provide excellent opportunities to get our message to a wider audience,
particularly younger people.
What happens between 2011 and 2013?
The lease on Clayton House ends on 31 December 2011 and we do
not expect the refurbished Central Library Building to open until late in
2013. In the interim period:
- Greater Manchester County Record Office have offered us office accommodation for our administration and mail order
- Manchester Archives and Local Studies have relocated to
temporary accommodation in Elliot House on Deansgate. There is a large
local studies library and our Help Desk has already re-opened there each
Thursday. There is the option, if we were to leave Clayton House, for Resource Centre volunteers to transfer to Elliot House to enable the Help Desk service to
be expanded to other days.
- Our library of books, fiche and CDs could be put into
appropriate storage for the duration of the temporary arrangement.
- However, there are logistical benefits to remaining in
Clayton House until the new centre is open. The landlord has indicated a
willingness to discuss a short and flexible lease on the 3rd floor rooms
to cover this period. This is being explored as the Executive Committee's
preferred option and negotiations have been commenced towards obtaining an
What will happen to services to members?
Irrespective of the interim arrangements adopted, there will be no hiatus in membership. Members will continue to receive
their quarterly copy of The Manchester Genealogist and the e-mail list will
remain in operation. Members will continue to enjoy look-up services and our
programme of meetings will continue. If we were to vacate Clayton House we
would have to have to find
new venues for meetings. The Resource Centre at Clayton House would
close, but we would hope that members would continue to meet together and
with our volunteers at Elliot House.
Is there a 'Plan B'?
The Trustees are proceeding with the view to making a success of
negotiations and joining the Archives+ partnership. If insurmountable
difficulties arise, this will clearly have to be reconsidered. Continued
occupation of Clayton House will become increasingly difficult if the
long-term trend of increasing cost and decreasing income continues and it is
ultimately likely that there will have to be a further decision on
retrenchment or closure. Furthermore, the opening of Archives+ in the refurbished Central
Library will make it more difficult for the Society to attract and retain
members and continue as a separate
body in its own premises. Clearly if negotiations fail to achieve a
satisfactory outcome, we will have to salvage what we can, but 'business as
usual' is unlikely to be anything other than a short term solution.
Have other funding sources been explored?
We have considered the possibility of seeking grants from charitable funding
bodies but these are generally either only made against specific limited
projects or tend to operate on a year-to-year basis with no guarantee of
continuity. This does not provide a satisfactory basis on which to commit to
long-term commitments such as a building lease.
It should be reiterated, however, that the reasons for recommending that MLFHS
joins the Archives+ partnership are not purely financial. The Trustees would
still view the proposal as a positive move for MLFHS if financial
considerations were not an issue.
Is MLFHS committed to the partnership?
As indicated above, the Executive Committee feels that the Archives+ proposal
will provide the most secure future for the Society and offers some exciting
possibilities. There is, however, no formal commitment to participate.
As a first stage of commitment, the Society has signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This sets out basic principles from
which future negotiations towards a binding agreement will develop. The key
points of the MOU are:
- That all parties, including MLFHS, will retain their
individual identities and parent bodies.
- That MLFHS will be guaranteed a seat on the Archives+
Board which will manage strategic issues.
- That MLFHS will be guaranteed two seats on the Steering
Group which will manage operational issues.
- That future binding contractual agreements will be
subject to agreement of the building design, and to partnership and
The MOU can be terminated by written notice if the
Society decides it it is not in its interests to proceed.
Click the link to read the full text of the
Memorandum of Understanding.
How can I keep abreast of developments?
We will be publishing reports in each issue of The Manchester Genealogist,
but recognise that this is only quarterly and that information will lag
events. To provide a more immediate picture, we have established a project
diary and this will be updated with the results of meetings and other
developments as they take place. To access the project diary
Work in Progress
CLICK HERE for an outline of how Central Library is to be transformed.
for some still photos of the work in progress.
CLICK HERE to see a short time-lapse video of the erection of the
scaffolding inside the building.
CLICK HERE to see a short video about the removal of the interior floors