Friday, 25 June 2010

ScotlandsPeople Centre User Group minutes

The ScotlandsPeople Centre User Group minutes from April 9th 2010 are now available here.

I was slightly amused to read point 7.3 - "Some concerns were raised that the opening of local family history centres may impact on the availability of jobs for professional genealogists". There are plans to link local family history centres across Scotland to the ScotlandsPeople Centre computer system, though the same minutes note that there is currently a delay in this due to problems setting up secure internet connections.

However, the fact that access will soon be spread across Scotland by such a method will, in my opinion, in fact benefit professional genealogists working more locally across Scotland. At present I have to pass on a travel charge to customers if I need to do research at the ScotlandsPeople Centre, but when the digitised vital records are made available at the local Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock or the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, those costs will be reduced and make such work more competitive for researchers across Scotland. There will always be cases where I need to do work in Edinburgh - there are additonal resources at the ScotlandsPeople Centre, as well as the National Archives of Scotland and the National Library, which are equally important - but there are also times when work can be done at a more local centre equally as well, which will benefit both the customer and researcher alike.

The genealogy world is moving on into the 21st century, and it quite rightly should no longer be the exclusive remit of those who can get to Edinburgh to be able to work as professional genealogists. If you are in Inverness, the Borders, the west of Scotland or perhaps even the islands, access will greatly benefit researchers. It may disadvantage some of the old order in Edinburgh - but it will bring many new opportunities to the rest of Scotland, and greatly accelerate access to the resources of ScotlandsPeople for all of Scotland's people. Genealogy today is now about the democratisation of history and the democratisation of access to our history. And I can only see that as a truly great thing.

Also discussed in the minutes - enhancements to the ScotlandsPeople computer system, the 1911 Scottish census, the digitised Valuation Rolls from 1855-1915, more wills digitisation from 1902-1925, the soon to happen replacement of DIGROS based computers in the Dundas Room, and some new 'getting started' workshops for those new to genealogy.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)


Anonymous said...

I didn't know this group exists and have just spent an amusing 10 minutes skimming though some of the other editions. I particularly liked this comment from the Aug 08 edition:
"6.9 Concerns were raised that the lower charges were encouraging all types of people to New Register House."

I find it astounding that such a comment should be made in a meeting that purports to be a "user group". Who exactly do these people represent? Genealogy is not the exclusive domain of a select group and they should be delighted that new users are using the centre.

Chris Paton said...

In the case of the current minutes, the following organisation acronyms listed are explained as:

1) The GROS - the General Register Office for Scotland; one of the centre's partner organisations. See

2)ASGRA - the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives - currently representing 11 Scottish genealogists (+ 3 probationers and 2 associate members) - see

3) SAFHS - the Scottish Association of Family History Societies - representing most mainland based FHSs, those for Orkney and Shetland, and some from further afield with Scottish interests - see