The Friends of the William Salt Library (‘Friends’) wish to see the current William Salt Library (WSL) building retained as part of the Stafford Record Office complex and for two years we have been campaigning for this option.
We also wish to ensure that the current WSL building continues to keep books on shelves, which visitors will be able to freely browse and also provides the best place for access to local history publications, especially in light of the possible closure the Local History section of the County Library when it moves to Staffordshire Place, greatly reducing shelf access to all books by up to a third.
While we welcome the proposal for new, up to date, long-term storage, we feel that this should not be at the loss of such an historic building, which was the original home of the Stafford Record Office and in 2018 will celebrate 100 years as the home of the WSL archive collection and establishment of an old free library, few of which survive nationally.
The ‘Friends’ have also paid half of the cost towards a survey of the WSL building, which was found to be in better condition than originally feared. The ‘Friends’ have consistently offered to raise funds separately to modernize the building, which will be an asset to the planned complex.
One of the main reasons that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) refused the first bid put forward last year, was their stipulation that the William Salt Library building was to be retained as part of the new complex.
Of the four options put forward for consultation, OPTION Ais the preferred option for the ‘Friends’ as it will safeguard the future of the listed WSL building and preserve this unique library for the nation. It would also continue to present a fine, historic frontage to the archive office and, more importantly, keeps archives at the heart of the county town.
Option A is also in line for the delivery of the Archive and Heritage Service ‘Vision’ providing for the future of users of the archives and also adheres more closely to (HLF) requirements
The results of this current consultation, ending on 14th August, will lead to the Architects Brief for the design of the proposed complex. This consultation gives the public the chance to voice their opinions and help shape the future of, and our access to, the archive service.