Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hanging my head in shame

I am proud to say that nearly 50 years ago I started my career working in public libraries in New South Wales and since then I have had an ongoing love affair with those institutions and the great work they do.


On the eve of National Family History Month (NFHM) I am feeling rather sad. Having just checked the calendar for NSW events in National Family History Month I am disappointed that most public library services in my state (and some big metropolitan ones at that) are not recognising NFHM by hosting events during the month.

Knowing that local libraries are cash strapped I offered to do talks for two library services in my area one of which I have spoken at several times and another that I have not. I sent a formal offer to the second library on 21st February and received a reply three months later on May 15 that they would like to take up my offer. I replied on the same day with several dates and in July 2 got this reply:

"Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in getting this planned at our branch and through for approval for our August What’s on promotional material. As such  we won’t be going ahead with this for August.

I am open to future suggestions for sessions and would still love to have you speak at our libraries . Please feel free to contact me with further ideas"

My next communication from this library was to ask me if I would be available to speak in October. We have set a date, they have asked for a bio for promotion so it looks as though that might go ahead. I sent a less formal offer to the other library early in July and have yet to receive a response!!

Surely there is some time that the seminar roms are free in these libraries and that a staff member can be relieved for and hour or two to meet and greet and oversee the proceedings. As for promotion a poster in the library, use of the Councils' social media tools (they have them) and a listing on the NFHM calendar would get the message out.

There are five large library services within a half  hour's drive of my home: Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, The Hills and Willoughby. On checking the NFHM calendar I note that only one of these, Hawkesbury, is hosting any events for National Family History Month. You can see their What's On Brochure here. I am looking forward to hearing at windsor Library "SINGLE FEMALE EMIGRATION 1830s - 1840s" on Wednesday 13 August 10-11.45am – with Dr Perry McIntyre.

What of other public libraries?  Two Eastern suburbs libraries that I worked at, Randwick and Waverley, do not have any events. I am most disappointed that public libraries are not supporting our special month.

As far as I can see Bega Valley, Campsie, Lithgow,Merrylands, Monaro, Penrith and Queanbeyan are the only public library services hosting events. Hats off to these groups for supporting events. I am wondering how much support there is for NFHM from public libraries in other states. Perhaps those libraries that have historical societies or family history groups in their regions are relying on them. I feel that public libraries should be running events to showcase their collections and services that complement those of local societies

Our State Library of NSW is flying the flag with a fantastic program of events that should amuse those within cooee of Sydney. Together with the beaut program of events from societies and Familysearch centres there are many events to entertain and educate family historians. I know that I will be very busy furthering my learning this month.

Shauna Hicks does an amazing job promoting and organizing National Family History Month. Let's get behind her and ask our local public libraries what they have planned for NFHM. 


8 comments:

TravelGenee said...

Jill, Great point about community now days. What were open public places where the community shared interests or just met and chatted are now becoming places that require months to organise a community meet up. Even though you are giving your time for free many places now charge to hold events. The "community tree" has some rotten roots these days.

Alona Tester said...

It's disappoting isn't it. I have the same feeling with my own state (SA), although here it is the lack of Societies being involved. Though I have been told that they "did it all in May" (for our History Month, so don't feel the need to do it again.

Jill Ball said...

I just found an event on Randwick Council's website. Wish they would add it to NFHM Calendar.

Shauna Hicks said...

Thanks Jill for this and I am happy to say that we have had good support from public libraries in Queensland (mostly SE QLD) and in Victoria. State Library South Australia has been good and there are more events in SA than last year Alona. Tasmania is fantastic and WA it is mostly in the south but State Library WA is going afield as is State Library QLD. So really NSW was my most disappointing area this year and I am not sure why. AND there are lots of events out there but just not in the NFHM web calendar which I try to get people to add ....

Tessa Keough said...

That is rather disappointing isn't it? We look to our local libraries to be the "meeting place" for all and I think libraries are really missing out. I wonder how many local citizens know anything about a historical or genealogical society (usually very few). Most citizens know about their library. What a good opportunity to show and tell about local history, biographies, special collections, newspapers - you name it, the topic or subject is covered with family history. Terribly sad and I wonder how the larger event is planned (whether to include libraries as spokes to that larger wheel). Condolences (oh and it is just plain rude to next get back to someone timely - one way or the other).

Kerryn Taylor said...

I must check what's on in Victoria.

Laren said...

Jill, we had the opposite experience. We contacted the local branch (Stockton) at 12.30pm on Tuesday (on the way home from the Society Family History bi-weekly meeting) and by 3pm the next day, we had (very enthusiastic) permission and a custom poster for us to print and distribute (which they designed for us)!! The Local Studies librarian will be attending and they are lending us iPads so everyone can access Ancestry at the same time!! (The local library is very small and only has three computers). And details were put up on the central library Upcoming Events page. I am sorely tempted to offer to do it at a couple of other libraries, since they have been so supportive. So add Newcastle Library system to the supporting column!!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

valid points Jill and I admit to not being proactive at present. I would love to hear Perry speaking (and you of course!).

I guess to an extent it's about competing priorities.

Shauna has done a great job working on AFHM.

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