Increasing numbers of local people, it appears, are becoming keen to explore their family histories. In which case, it may be timely to mention how easy – and how inexpensive – it is to pursue one’s research interests through Settle Library. This short piece explains how.
First and foremost, all NYCC libraries offer free of charge access to the two most comprehensive and most used on-line family research applications, namely Ancestry.com and findmypast.co.uk. If you subscribe privately to either of these, you will pay upwards of £100 per annum, and over £120 if you want access to overseas records. So free access to both from the library is a bargain! For users there is not much to choose between them. In my view Ancestry is slightly better in relation to military records, while findmypast offers the 1939 Register – a survey of the population on the eve of World War Two, and intriguing for its later handwritten updates. Given that both Ancestry and findmypast are available free to library users, there is no reason why you should not use both – as I do.
The library also offers free access to the British Newspaper Archive, an on-line collection of British newspapers spanning the years from roughly 1700 to the present day. Although there are some local areas where the newspapers have not yet been digitised, BNA’s coverage of titles is increasing all the time.
And of course, library internet access gives you other free of charge websites including, particularly, the General Register Office, which is the sole UK source of official certificates of births, marriages and deaths. You can reach numerous other family research websites too, many (though not all) free of charge. In the library’s reference section, you can find The Family History Web Directory, which identifies hundreds of websites that guide your research before you even touch a keyboard.
Settle library has four desktop computers available for public use. Library card-holders are entitled to 30 minutes’ free of charge use per day, with each additional 30 minutes charged at £1.50. If you need more intensive use – and family research can certainly run away with your time – it is well worthwhile considering a subscription. A subscription costs from as little as £3, for 3 hours’ use per day over three months. £35 provides a full year of unlimited access. My personal preference, for the occasional teaching I do, as well as for my personal research, is a subscription of 6 hours per day over a three-month period: I get this for the princely sum of £5.
You can turn up at the library and hope to find a computer available without booking. But I strongly recommend, especially if you are planning a prolonged session of research, that you book a machine in advance. You can do this by phone or in person. If you are not sure how to log on, any of the librarians will help you. Some may be able to help you with Ancestry or findmypast, but both are easy.
he one thing the library cannot provide free of charge is a birth, marriage or death certificate. This, I’m afraid, is the Government at work. Because these certificates count as legal documents – you could use them in court, for instance – they can be obtained only in printed form, either from the General Register Office in Southport or from your local Register Office, which in in our case is in Skipton. You can order certificates on-line, but they will come by post, usually with 4-5 days. Each certificate costs between £9 and £10, so make absolutely sure you are ordering the right document for the right ancestor!
Bob Young, Volunteer Librarian