B&NES has combined its local studies and archives collections in a single location at Bath Record Office in the city’s Guildhall.
Previously, the collections were located separately at Bath Central Library and within the Guildhall. The combined service is now called Archives & Local Studies, Bath & North East Somerset, to reflect the wider local history resources that are available.
As far back as 2014, the Council made the decision to house the services together at Bath Record Office. Bringing together local studies and archive materials under one roof has been an aspiration long-held by staff and those who regularly use the service, such as local people, history researchers and academics. As early as 2002, a survey of those using the services showed strong support for the idea.
Local history books which can be borrowed by members of the public will remain in Bath’s central library and local branch libraries. This move is separate to the proposals to combine libraries in central Bath and Midsomer Norton with One Stop Shops.
Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is good news for residents, local historians and researchers because it brings the Local Studies collections, which include local history reference books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and other historic items under the same roof as the Council’s archives at the internationally Designated Bath Record Office. Having these resources in the same place means people will no longer need to visit different sites to get the information they need.
“In addition, experienced, trained Archivists along with the Local Studies Librarian from Bath Central Library can be on hand to quickly locate relevant materials and assist in research across the whole collection.”
The project includes a refurbishment of the Record Office research rooms to create additional public space where people will be able to browse local history reference books, conduct searches and study archive materials. WiFi is now available in the research rooms for the first time, and additional PCs, desks and book shelving have been provided. Much-needed damp proofing and updating fixtures and fittings has also taken place to ensure that the whole space is bright, clean and comfortable.
To find out more about the collections, visit www.batharchives.co.uk or www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives/local-studies.