Temporary archive home ahead of permanent move

Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive had been housed at the Dugdale Centre for 13 years, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Ridge Avenue Library in Bush Hill Park
Ridge Avenue Library in Bush Hill Park will become a temporary home for the archive

An archive containing information on the history of Enfield will be temporarily moved to a library in Bush Hill Park.

Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive will relocate to Ridge Avenue Library in December while redevelopment work on its future civic centre home is carried out, Enfield Council has confirmed.

Containing thousands of documents dating back to the 13th Century, the archive has been housed in the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town since 2008. But last year the council revealed part of the Dugdale would be converted into offices for its children’s services department and, in April this year, confirmed the archive would move to the civic centre

Val Munday, The Enfield Society’s lead on the archive, raised concerns that although its stores would be moved to Ridge Avenue Library, its manager would apparently still be based at the civic centre.

She said: “Sometimes people come to the library and archive and they are not entirely sure what they want. They have a rough idea of what research they need to do, but until the manager talks to them, he might not know what documents he requires.

“It is going to cause all sorts of problems, especially if people have travelled from afar – and they often do, because they had relatives in Enfield, and they just come for the day.”

Val said she understood the civic centre might not be ready to house the archive until spring 2023.

A council spokesperson said service users “should not see any impact from the move of the local studies service to the civic centre and the temporary move of the archive to Ridge Avenue Library”.

In 2019, Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive was awarded full accredited archive service status by the National Archives, meaning it meets national standards in the care of its collections and the service offered to users.

The council spokesperson said: “Enfield Civic Centre will form part of the borough’s cultural and heritage infrastructure. This will include the relocation of the local studies [library] and archive to the ground floor.

“This move will raise the profile of the archive service, with a reading room on the ground floor adjacent to the reception area. As well as elevating the importance of local heritage, Enfield Council is keen to improve accessibility to this service.

“The facility is being designed in consultation with the National Archives and supported by the museum, archives and libraries service. The reception area of the civic centre will also provide a gallery space with revolving exhibitions of local art and artefacts from the archive, which will again enhance and promote the archive service.

“Redevelopment to accommodate these key areas has begun. The local archive will move temporarily to Ridge Avenue Library in December 2021.

“We continue to operate an appointment-only system, which will mean that service users should not see any impact from the move of the local studies service to the civic centre and the temporary move of the archive to Ridge Avenue Library.

“Our catalogue is also available online. The online catalogue contains collection and item-level descriptions relating to the holdings of the archive.”

The Enfield Society previously led a campaign to keep Enfield Studies Library and Archive at the Dugdale Centre, arguing it made more sense to keep it in the same building as Enfield Museum. But an offer to donate £20,000 to help improve the facilities there was rejected by the council last year.