Cumbria County Council has had to make difficult decisions about a range of services in recent years, owing to the challenging financial position it has faced. One of those decisions, earlier this year was to close each of the Archives Centres on Tuesdays and Saturdays, meaning that our four centres are only open to the public from Wednesday to Friday. In making that decision the Council recognised the strength of support that existed for the service and it was therefore no surprise that we received extensive feedback from service users.
As a direct result of the feedback received, we have reviewed the decisions we took earlier this year, and have decided to introduce lunchtime opening in all four archives centres with effect from 1 September 2016. This extended service will enable users to continue their research uninterrupted throughout the day. The feedback we have had so far suggests that this will be a welcome step. We regret we have not been able to reinstate opening on Saturdays at Barrow, Carlisle and Whitehaven (particularly for users who cannot visit during the week), but the pattern of use was much lower on Saturdays than weekdays. In the circumstances we face, we have to make the best use of our limited staff resources to support the greatest number of visitors and provide the most efficient public service possible.
In order to provide this service, the staff in each centre are changing their working patterns and details are given below. The result is that in some centres, it will not be possible to provide a full productions of original archives service during the lunchtime period.
Opening hours and services with effect from 1 September 2016
Barrow Archive Centre: Open Wednesday to Friday 9.30am-5pm, no productions 1-2pm
Carlisle Archive Centre: Open Wednesday to Friday 9.30am-5pm
Kendal Archive Centre: Open Wednesday to Friday 9.30am-5pm, no productions from strongroom no. 3, 12-2pm
Whitehaven Archive Centre: Open Wednesday to Friday 9.30am-5pm
We have also had to withdraw the Historical Research Service in light of the pressures outlined above. The research service provided a good service for a relatively small number of users. We are trying to use our staff for the maximum public benefit, both in assisting users and in managing collections to make them available. We will continue to try and respond to remote research enquiries where this is feasible but we will advise some enquirers that their research needs would be best met by using a freelance researcher. Please refer to our new Paid Research page.
In the meantime, if you have any comments about the current and future service, or suggestions for the future, these can be made via the online feedback form at http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives/contact/fform.asp or via the four Archive Centres. Contact details for each of the offices can be found at http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives/contact/default.asp
24 August 2016