A New Pace

Finding a new pace

Challenging times have meant a change of pace to all our lives. And,  this is also relevant to those of us who volunteer on the Society's Family History Help Desk.  Like the rest of the nation the initial lock down in March meant an immediate cessation of all our Help Desk activities and finding new ways to fill our days and new ways of doing things.  And, as the days and the weeks have passed this has even meant learning new ways to research our family history!

Changing pace

MLFHS Help Desk volunteers initially rallied by offering our Help Desk services via a 'Virtual Help Desk' and also filmed and posted a number of 'Hints from the Help Desk'  videos on our website and Society Facebook pages.

Larger organisations like Ancestry and Findmypast started to change the way they have been engaging with their audiences and offered live videos and chat sessions via Facebook and also increased the number of informative blogs.  Perhaps you have seen or been tuning in to some of them?

Groups like the Family History Federation and RootsTech are also going online trying to recreate a family history conference experience.  There are pluses and minuses to all these new  experiences. But hopefully you have managed to pick up some useful and helpful tips in order to move your research on. A new digital revolution is upon us to be sure!

Gathering pace

However, we recognise, and are all very realistic about our current situation and mindful that we will not be returning to our usual Help Desk structure at Manchester Central Library for some time.  So, with this in mind we are trying to redevelop new methods of operation. On a trial basis we have reopened the MLFHS Family History Helpdesk once a week on a Monday only. Opening times are restricted from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm and places are  now bookable. Bookings can be made by emailing us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We also continue to assist people via our Virtual Help Desk.

We are currently not allowed to use our usual Help Desk position on the ground floor and have been provided a temporary base on the 3rd floor.  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to implement zoom assistance from the library as we had wished.

Access to computers and film readers remains very limited in the library (2 meter rule!).  However, we have had two readers moved upstairs to the 3rd floor so we and our visitors have the exclusive use of these.  We continue to iron-out and modify our service. 

Please remember that all visitors to Manchester Central Library will need to comply with library/Covid restrictions and wear a face mask or face covering. Assistance at the Help Desk will be provided in a distanced manner.

Hitting our stride

So, for those of you whose circumstances allow do consider making a booking and visit us at Manchester Central Library. Some things have not changed: the wealth of information contained in the archival collections and local history books, information found only in the microfilm and fiche collections and our course our commitment to providing quality assistance to family history researchers.

Leslie Turner
Help Desk Co-ordinator