Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Major developments at the Mitchell Library

The Genealogy Centre, previously based for many years at 22 Park Circus, Glasgow, has finally moved to its new premises on the 3rd floor of the city's Mitchell Library, with today its first day of operation in its new home. I managed to have a quick chat with a couple of staff members in the building earlier, so here’s a run down on the new set up!

The centre now has 20 terminals, 15 of which can be pre-booked and 5 of which can be obtained on a first-come first served basis. As before the opening hours are 9.30am-4.00pm, Monday to Friday, though I’ve been told that may be reviewed in due course to tie in more with the opening hours of the Mitchell itself, though nothing is on the cards just now. The cost for a day’s access to the records, still available through the old DIGROS system, and not the new ScotlandsPeople system (as used at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh), remains £14. The following are the new contact details:

Genealogy Centre, Mitchell Library, Third Floor, North Street, Glasgow, G3 7DN
Telephone: 0141 287 8364
Email: genealogy@glasgow.gov.uk
Website: www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/Residents/BirthDeathMarriage_Citizenship/GenealogyCentre/

One further advantage to the new service, apart from additional seats, is the additional microfilm back up for OPR records. Previously at Park Circus this was for records for the Strathclyde region only; however the Mitchell has its own set of OPR microfilms covering much further afield, including parishes in Perthshire, Invernessshire and beyond. The old Park Circus collection of microfilms was not yet in the building, but will be from tomorrow I have been told, so nothing has been ditched! The Mitchell, of course, also has its own very substantial collection of monumental inscription books. All of these resources are based in the room next door to that occupied by the Genealogy Centre.

Equally helpful now at the Mitchell are two terminals within Glasgow City Archives carrying the new kirk session records collections, as digitised by Scottish Documents (through an agreement by the NAS in partnership with the Church of Scotland). As well as the session minutes there are also digitised returns for presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly, as well as many nonconformist registers as handed in to the NAS in 1929, when the United Free Church rejoined the Church of Scotland. Those churches which remained independent (Wee Frees etc) are not included. There are only two terminals providing access, and the monitors are rather small compared to those at the NAS, which is a slight disadvantage, and the computers were quite slow in launching the collections – not sure if that is because the computers are a bit old or whether some connectivity issue. However once the collections were launched I found it relatively easy to step through a page at a time, so this is another very welcome tool for the family historian in the Glasgow area. I suspect having only two terminals with the record sets may be optimistic though once word gets out! Bear in mind that Glasgow City Archives is on the second floor, and not the third.

For those like myself based in the west of Scotland, this will now provide a more integrated family history research service at the Mitchell, making it less imperative to have to visit Edinburgh on all occasions. The ScotlandsPeople Centre does remain a slightly superior set up, simply because it has a great many miscellaneous records and with the NAS available to hand; nevertheless for researchers like myself, this does mean that for a great deal of work can now be done in Glasgow, which should make some client work slightly cheaper simply through the savings in travel costs. And for the great and the good of Glasgow - it's all there waiting to be explored now on your own doorstep!

One other quick update - if you don't fancy lunch at the Mitchell's cafe, there is now a new Tesco Metro on Kent Road just across the road, where you can get sandwiches etc!


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Harvey L Kaplan said...

All good, but no clear info yet about availability of 1911 census, as though they hadn't realised that it was going to be a major issue in a couple of weeks' time! Last week, they said they wouldn't have it at all. Today, they say it will be available on some terminals only, but no, they can't say if you can book those terminals for a day.

Chris Paton said...

Hi Harvey,

My understanding is that the Genealogy Centre computers still use DIGROS, the system used by many district registrars across the country, and previously in use at the ScotlandsPeople Centre (still available on a handful of terminals there). The 1911 census is not going onto DIGROS, but the new ScotlandsPeople computer system, so it will therefore not be available in the Genealogy Centre in Glasgow on the DIGROS based terminals.

However, the records are obviously going on to the pay-per-view ScotlandsPeople website, and so I assume they mean that the records can be consulted on the Mitchell via that. I think I'm also right in saying that the 1911 census won't be made available on microfilm.

It is an intention that at some point the ScotlandsPeople computer system will be rolled out across Scotland to various archives, so presumably if and when this happens, 1911 will then be made available. I asked about this today, and again, it's all still in limbo.

The sooner that happens, the better - the system is called ScotlandsPeople, not EdinburghsPeople!


mcwacky said...

I spent two days using DIGROS in Glasgow and the system they had was that visitors could book a one hour slot for the 1911 census - made available on 2 computers. You can view as many records as you like (on ScotlandsPeople) for free.

It cost 50p to print a page and you weren't allowed to save pages to a USB stick (which, if I recall rightly, is an option at ScotlandsPeople - for £1). The limit on access to the 1911 Scotland census is 1 hour a day, unless demand is low, when you may be able to secure additional time slots.

Chris Paton said...

Thanks for the update, very useful to know you can also get access to 1911 there now!

Bear in mind one other key benefit of the Mitchell's set up - WiFi access. Although the ScotlandsPeople Centre has access to many external websites on its terminals, these have to be pre-approved before joining a list. With WiFi you can access what you like on your own laptop. If there is one major disadvantage of the National Records of Scotland (including the SP Centre) it is that it still does not offer WiFi on its premises, in marked contrast to the National Archives at Kew. Hopefully in time that will change!


morseman said...

Had a day at the Genealogy Centre on 19th October.No problems accessing 1911 Census, the computers were available on request.
Fire alarms went off at 2.40pm and everybody bundled out into the street.False alarm ,back in at 3.20 pm