A space age £40m heritage centre.
Report by Mike Doran
and Photographs by
A space age £40m heritage centre is set to make Liverpool the world's first on-line city for tracing family roots.
Liverpool city council's award-winning Library and Information Service is planning to
digitize millions of archives, including birth certificates, school registers and details of people who emigrated from the city, and make them available on the Internet.
By 2007, people across the world will be able to trace their ancestry by the click of a mouse.
The £10m digitization project will also see the downloading of the Central Library's internationally acclaimed collection of rare artifacts, such as the city's historic charters, into one of the world's biggest virtual archives.
To complement the digitization, the city council is also planning a £30m redevelopment of the library - the UK's first public lending library - to house a 21st century Heritage Centre.
Liverpool's archives are already the largest and most used in the UK, outside London. The £40m scheme would make the city a world centre for genealogy, allowing virtual visitors from all over the globe to trace their roots.
The scheme is set to be given the green light by the council's Executive Board next Friday (Friday, March 21) leading to a bid for a £17.5m as part of a PFI initiative.
Councilor Warren Bradley, Executive Member for Leisure and Culture, said:-
''Ex-pats from Broadgreen will be able to discover their ancestry from the comfort of their armchair in Boston. It will have a huge impact on tourism and education and is a key element in our bid to be European Capital of Culture.
''Our Central Library is recognized by government as one of the best in the UK for service and its archives. This project will make it the best in the world. We will now be asking what the people of the city think. We are working extremely hard with our partners to make sure it is a success.''
Liverpool to create £40m 'super'
library with digital Heritage Centre
The public and the library's customers will be consulted on the plans by the end of the year.
By then, an architect consultant will have been appointed with a brief to include a new Heritage Centre within the library. And in August the Council will make a bid to the National Lottery to help fund the £10m
It is anticipated that the three-year task to digitize Liverpool's archives will begin in 2004. Work is expected to begin on the two year redevelopment in 2005. When complete the scheme will increase the capacity to exhibit artifacts in the 18,000 sq m central library by 25%.
Key aspects of the Liverpool Heritage Centre include:-
· A "memories of Liverpool" service to allow people to submit their own family story
· A special collection from the black community to complement the Slave Gallery at the Maritime Museum
· A "point of departure" collection, featuring emigration records for the millions whose embarkation port for the new world was Liverpool.
· Imaginative displays and interactive stations
Joyce Little, Head of Libraries and Information Services, said:-
''Liverpool has a wealth of historical treasures and family records but at present we are not able to display them all. This
digitizing scheme will bring Liverpool's past to life. By making our superb archives available on the Internet, it will also be a huge educational resource.''
BBC interviewing Joyce Little
for North West News and library staff show us the old way to
look up information.
New library to open in August 2007 -
on Liverpool's 800th birthday