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What is Archives+?
Archives+, which is based on the ground floor of the building, is being developed to provide a one-stop-shop for family and local historians and in addition to the partner organisations there will be arrangements with:
The partnership shares information about proposed projects and events and seeks to apply the skills and resources of the partners to achieve maximum effectiveness.
How does the partnership affect MLFHS?
Why did MLFHS join the partnership?
The financial position of the Society was becoming increasingly uncertain. Declining income and escalating overheads meant that it was becoming increasingly difficult to support the large overhead of a dedicated central Manchester office.
The opening of Archives+ was seen also as presenting a threat. It is reasonable to assume that Archives+ would have been active in promoting its services to family historians and would have become a competitor. It would have been difficult to convince potential members of the benefit of membership given the opening of a new, one-stop-shop for family history.
Membership of the partnership was also seen as a positive move. We have obtained accommodation at a substantial reduction in cost from previous levels. There are considerably improved opportunities for transcription and indexing projects and the several partners are committed to working on joint projects and activities. Finally, we are now based in a centre which is planning to attract some 2 million visitors annually. This will provide excellent opportunities to get our message to a wider audience, particularly younger people.
What has happened to services to members?
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.
How does the future look?
Now that the considerable work of moving the Society is behind us we can look towards improving what we offer to members. We are currently looking at expanding the number of member events and introducing a 'mentoring' service to enable members to obtain one-to-one support by experts in particular fields of research. We will also be expanding the member data available on the Society web site, beginning with work to transfer our collection of memorial inscriptions into machine-readable form opening up access to all of our members. This data is expected to contain over a quarter of a million names once completed (at present about 76,000)
Updated 30 May 2014 - John Marsden