Reimagining local studies in Devon. Reclaiming the local community’s published heritage in an age of austerity

Published date24 November 2019
Date24 November 2019
AuthorIan Maxted
Subject MatterLibrary & information science
Reimagining local studies
in Devon
Reclaiming the local communitys published
heritage in an age of austerity
Ian Maxted
Exeter Working Papers in Book History, Exeter, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paperis to examine the effect that government austerity policies has had on
local studiesin Devon and suggest a possible alternative means of maintaininglocal studiescollections.
Design/methodology/approach This paper presentsan historical survey of local studies provision in
the county sincethe nineteenth century and outlines the present local studieslandscape.
Findings The ndings show that local studiesprovision has been severely affected by eight years of
progressive cuts to public library funding and that present publications, both printed and digital, are no
longer beingadequately recorded.
Practical implications This paper suggests that in Devon, the museum sector may be a more
appropriatehome for local studieslibrary provision than arearchive services.
Social implications Volunteers in libraries, museums and archives across Devon will be involved in
maintaininga union catalogue and a bibliographyof local publications.
Originality/value While this is a suggestedsolution for Devon, it may not be applicable in regions with
differenttraditions of heritage provision.
Keywords Libraries, Community archives, Museums, Devon, Local studies, Record ofces
Paper type Case study
Devon is the third largest historic county in England (after Yorkshire and Lincolnshire).
Devons 6,622 km
area contained in mid-2017 an estimated1,185,300 inhabitants. Of these,
263,100 were in the unitary authority of Plymouth and 135,200 in the unitary authority of
Torbay. The remainder lived in one of the eight district councils which include Exeter, the
historic county town of Devon, with a populationof 128,900. Plymouth is responsible for all
local authority services in its area, including libraries, museums and archives. This is also
true of Torbay, but because of its smallersize, archives and libraries are managed by Devon
at a county level. Local authorities in England and Wales have a statutory duty under the
Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (1964) (Section 7), to provide a comprehensive and
efcient library service for all persons in the area who want to make use of it. The Local
Government (Records) Act 1962 (1962) [Section 1(1)], confers limited discretionary powers
for local authoritiesin England and Wales to provide certain archive services, but thereis no
statutory obligation on local authorities in England to provide a museum or art gallery.
Within the county of Devon, public libraries are managed through Libraries Unlimited
South West, a company limited by guarantee and a registeredcharity. The archive services
in Devon are managed jointly with Somerset through the South West Heritage Trust, a
similar organisation based in Taunton, Somerset. There are 50 library service points in
Devon and 2 record ofces, Devon Archives and Local Studies in Exeter and the North
Devon Record Ofce in Barnstaple (Figure 1).The museums in Devon are the responsibility
local studies
Received24 January 2019
Revised16 April 2019
Accepted21 April 2019
GlobalKnowledge, Memory and
Vol.68 No. 8/9, 2019
pp. 703-711
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/GKMC-01-2019-0007
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