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Re: Shocked at Brixham Museum
Posted by John Avery on 4/10/2017, 11:53 am, in reply to "Shocked at Brixham Museum"
I have from time to time given my time in local history museums / research centres. Although volunteers do not receive payment there are overheads such as heat, lighting, telephone, possibly internet connection, repairing displays etc and possibly control against insect infestation on artefacts plus liability insurance. Therefore any income from visitors is gratefully received. This is normally a donation box by the door or for example Society of Genealogists and / or Devon and Cornwall Record Society where instead of full membership day passes are offered for reasonable sums. If these small resource centres impose restrictions on copying records etc as one of their sources of income is charging for look ups or copies of an entry to protect their income I feel we cannot really criticise. I appreciate very much that you wanted to give of your time and generate more records for this site or other media but without knowing of any accounts etc of the museum we assume they have carefully thought out the policy to protect income. What do they do as alternatives? Charge everyone an entrance fee to visit or increase any existing fees. To rely on donation boxes I can assure you is not very productive - yes there is a clatter of coins going in but at the end of the day when emptied there were usually a load of one penny or two penny coins and even foreign currency, thankfully intermixed with more generous donations. It is fair to say that some researchers do not appreciate the hours of effort made by volunteers and probably on the basis they have found their goal and unlikely to return they think a small donation is adequate. Another example is a very large cemetery in Surrey bans photography unless the visitor purchases a permit. A large cemetery in Plymouth has part of its records in the local record office but retain the larger collection at their own office so charge a search fee which helps to fund the Trust.
I do not see the charge as holding to ransom but a means to encourage heritage and records to be available for future generations to appreciate our heritage.
There may incidentally been a form of covenant when the records passed to the museum whereby the original donors did not want them to be copied. An example of this is when the CLDS went around the Church of England parishes in the 1950's / 60's to complete their Family Search IGI record they only succeeded in gaining records of about 60% of the churches in Devon. They took the baptisms and marriage records from BT's and the private collection of Devon and Cornwall Record Society. This was in this case not for any financial reason but the C of E differed on ecumenical reasons.
Whether we pay for a copy of a BMD certificate from a government agency, or pay to enter a NT property or have a restriction on copying records it is a fact of life but please do not be discouraged in your efforts and good intentions.