I am prompted by Jeanne Bunting to come out of the Bush and say
someting about "Future IT Strategy & Possible New Premises".
One has to be a certainty, the other, a fervent hope - as Bank
Managers were wont to say to clients about Expenditure and Income
Projections, from prospective borrowers.
I would like to address in particular the issue of "Members Research
from resources in the Society's Library through the use of E-Mail and
other IT resources".
For many years there was a standard Notice included in the various
statements on the Inner back page of the "Genealogist's Magazine"
which said -
"Research - The society is able to undertake a certain amount
of paid research for Members in it's own collections. All
correspondence should be prepaid."
These periodic statements of a service particularly useful to overseas
members, and others living far beyond the 25 mile radius from
Trafalgar Square, ceased with the March 95 issue. Why, I know not!
I myself did use this service from time to time, but always was left
feeling that I ought not to have done so!!
I feel very strongly that with our new IT and Communications facilities,
this Members Service should be revived, and a freshly drafted Notice inserted
in future Magazines. Adequate resources should be made available, human
and IT wise, to make it a viable income generator, and service to members.
For whom do I speak? Let me refer everyone to the data contained
in the 1977 Annual Report. Rounded figures!! 14,00 members, Membership
Income 345,000pds, roughly 24 pds a head. with inner circle fees at 30pds,
and outer and O/S at 20pds this tells us that we have 7,000 members within
the 25 mile radius from Trafalgar Square, and 7,000 outside, of whom 1,500
are stated to be from overseas. ie 5,500 from the UK outside the 25 mile
radius circle. I notice that Research generated a gross income of no more
than 2900pds. At ten pounds a hit, 300 enquiries !!!
To summarise, I make a plea for some reassesment of priorities for our
hard working, but willing Volunteers, so that an effective Members
Research Facility can be set up, suitably equipped with human resources
and IT kit, and comfortably away from others' elbows and precious work spaces!
I should add that many of the Societies of which I am a member, do have well
set up Members research facilities, notably in Sydney, Adelaide, Dundee,
Liverpool, and even in Aberdeen, where they are so bold as to offer their
services in the columns of the Scots Magazine every month!