Taskholders Meeting
31 October 09

Meeting Report

A Task-holders meeting was held on the 31st October at Dartford. Some 54 Taskholders, Committee Members and the President and VPís met to look at the where we are now and which way should we consider going in the future. Christine Matthews (Kent County Council Community Development Librarian) and Janet Rose (Society Librarian) outlined the move of our Library to Summerhouse Drive and the benefits for the KCC Library and the Society that have resulted.

The increased room at the new location and the opportunity for our members to access such sites as Ancestry has resulted in an upsurge in usage. A comparison made of the numbers using the Library shows that in the seven months since the move to Summerhouse Drive over 500 visits have been made which is almost the same number as in the whole of the last full year at Hextable. Twenty new members have also joined the Society there.

President Jean Stirk gave a thought-provoking talk on the possible future of family history research and how we could consider which way we wish to go as individual researchers and as a Society.

The taskholders also looked at our existing services for members and how these could be developed and improved. These include the Inhabitants of North West Kent Index held by Linda Meaden, the Out of Area service provided by Stella Baggaley, the Overseas Co-ordination service operated by Joan Goodwins and the Meopham House Group, the Journal Back Issues service operated by Chris Barnett, Name enquiries run by Linda Searle, the Journal, Pauline Heathcote, Publications/Projects and Internet Sales (Bob Woodward), the Events Team, Barbara Phillips and Postal Sales, Barbara Attwaters, and the Society Website, Steve Archer Webmaster. Other resources were also identified, that were not NWKFHS indexes but owned by individual members such as the Papermakers Index and Brick-makers Index.

The main proposals of the meeting are summaried below.

Look-up Service


Society Website

Tape Library

Events Team

House Groups

The importance of The Events Team, Publications, Sales, the Website, the Journal and Branches are all recognised and the Library/Resource Centre should be able to act as a central co-ordinator of Information for them. To do this the Library team would need the support of all of them in providing information etc.

A small subcommittee should be set up by the Committee to look into all the above suggestions and report back any recommendations.

The Committee was impressed at the views and ideas that resulted and of the commitment of our task-holders in looking at ways to improve the Society into the future. There was support for the way that the Committee was handling change and developing the joint venture with KCC at the Library. To look at ways of financing and maintaining these services without increasing the cost of membership at this time or the near future. Many important ideas and points were raised that will be of great benefit to the Committee in planning the future.

I would like to thank all who took part for freely giving their time and their contribution in looking at the various issues. Jean Stirk, President, Christine Matthews of KCC Libraries who took part in the days events, Janet Rose for organizing the venue who along with other volunteers not only took part in the proceedings but found time to provide support for all of us on the day. David Turner for preparing the charts, Bob Woodward for bringing along many of the Society Publications to demonstrate what is available to members, Vera Bailey, Society Secretary, for assisting in the preparation of the paperwork and to David Cufley, Vice President who related the story of the Gavel and the Federation of Family History Societies.

Walter J Eves.


[What follows is the agenda page that was posted in advance of the actual meeting]

The previous Taskholders Meeting was held two years ago. It was also fortuitous timing as the Committee wished to consult with the task-holders about the future development of the Society, in particular the future use of the Society Library/Resource centre.

This was the Agenda for the day:

9.45amSign in/Coffee.
10.15amAnnouncements and Introduction by Chairman.
10.30amLibrary: Advantages of the move to Summerhouse and what is available for research. The future, what do we need to do?
10.50amBreak up into groups to look at the future for the Library as a Resource Centre.
11.15am Coffee/Tea
11.45am Report back.
1.15pmFamily History in Isolation? Jean Stirk.
1.45pmThe development of the Society. How will it have to change to meet the increasing involvement of Private companies such as Ancestry? The Committee is looking at this on an on going basis. Outline of some of the thoughts of the Committee.
2.00pmBreak into groups to look at what else should we consider.
2.30pmReport back.
3.20pmGeneral discussion and conclusions


The Library as a Resource Centre

The Society Library has slowly evolved over many years. Originally split between the Branches it was all brought together in one place at Hextable. With the introduction of Computers and easier access to the Societyís holdings the growth in the use of the library increased. Internet access was introduced which increased the services offered by the Society. The move to Summerhouse Drive enabled the Library to use the KCC access to Ancestry and provided easier access to records. The Library is also used for Society projects a very important result of which is indexes that can provide help to members.

However, with the move by commercial companies into parish records, the easy access to censuses and other records the Society needs to look at what it can offer members and how it can evolve in the future.

What type of research service should the Society offer at the Library? Bearing in mind it will be operated on a volunteer basis.

  1. Should it be a limited service? One hour in specific records?
  2. Should all the Societyís records be available to look up for information? If so what, if any, effect would this have on Sales?
  3. Should there be a charge? If so a donation or a set amount?
  4. Should requests be by e-mail only or by post, also?
  5. Any other suggestions on what could be offered?


Other Societies, such as the Buckinghamshire Society offer similar research services. Depending on what records you wish to have searched they charge between £1 and £3. All of their records are used.

Changes to the Society

The development of the Society. How will it have to change to meet the increasing involvement of private companies such as Ancestry? The Committee is looking at this on an on-going basis. With the support of Projects, the Publications Committee (Bob Woodward), Postal Sales (Barbara Attwaters), Steve Archer (Web Master), Barbara Philips and the Fairs Team as well as Janet Rose (Librarian) and the Library Team and the Journal (Pauline Heathcote, Editor) the following changes and developments are some that have been made to date.

  1. The move to CD/DVDs instead of printed and fiche indexes etc.
  2. The agreements with various archives to publish original records.
  3. Using such sites as The Parish Chest to sell.
  4. Use of pay-per-view sites to make available indexes and provide an income.
  5. Providing free indexes on the Society website.
  6. The move to make the Society library a resource centre.

What else should the Society be doing?

  1. Look at putting as many as possible of our indexes on pay-per-view sites?
  2. Providing more free indexes?
  3. Reducing the price of CDís that are showing reduced sales over a period of time?
  4. Providing a tailored service to overseas members?
  5. Any other ideas or suggestions?