Monday, 18 June 2012

Revised service widens access to experts, say new providers

Following APGI's statement last week giving reasons for their decision not to tender for the contract to provide the free-to-visitors Genealogy Service (GS) at the National Archives and National Library, the winning consortium has provided Irish Genealogy News with details of the revised service now available to family historians at both institutions.

'We have a greater number of panel experts, with a wider range of expertise than was previously available,' explains Fiona Fitzsimons, director of Eneclann, the well-known research company that has joined forces with Ancestor Network to manage the new service. The team consists of 13 members (one more than previously), and five of them are APGI-accredited.

'Everyone on our panel has a qualification in genealogy from a university, as well as extensive experience working as a professional in the field.'

The hours of the GS at the National Archives are unchanged (10am to 1.30pm, Mon-Fri). The biggest change is in the National Library, where library staff previously fielded all family history queries.

'The difference,' explains Fiona, 'is that a professional genealogist is now available for a morning and afternoon session on Mondays to Fridays, and on Saturday mornings. In addition, we now assist visitors in loading microfilm reels on the microfilm readers. This is complementary to the genealogy advice that we provide, and is a natural follow-on to the advice service. It's not particularly onerous to assist visitors in this way, nor do we feel that it diminishes our professional status to be asked to do so.'

She points out that Fiona Ross, the director of the NLI, has gone on public record to say that the new GS is enhanced and also offers a significant saving to the tax payer.

'There is nothing diminished about the genealogy advice service that Eneclann and Ancestor Network are offering, either in actual terms, or in terms of its standing within the National Library or the National Archives,' she says.

The new service started operation on Monday 11 June. Further details are available on the website's of the NAI and NLI.