Daily Archives: May 23, 2023

The insurance dance

After many days on the phone and plenty of rejections I finally found an insurance carrier who agreed to take us on for less than half what we paid last year. We have a few more restrictions as to coverage area but we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.

Confirming that we are not yet a paperless society we need to print the documents, sign and rescan them before emailing back to the agent. We need to find a copy shop. Try as I might, I couldn’t locate one anywhere near where we are or plan to be.

We stopped for the night at a little town where we’d stayed before, went to a grocery store, then a laundry, and while Jack kept his eye on the wash tumbling in the machine I circled for a half hour through the convoluted streets until I found the tiny public library.

The librarian on duty confirmed that yes, I can print documents, and when she couldn’t find the visitor’s pass for me to use, she just signed me up as a member. I now have a library card for all of Northern Ireland. Take that, Edinburgh, who wanted a full personal dossier to even let me in the door and denied me membership because I’m not a legal resident of the UK, despite having a borrowed address. I know, rules are rules, but as the accommodating librarian today told me, it’s at the discretion of the librarian, and she obviously didn’t see me as a threat to the library’s holdings.

Access to the collections and services of archives and libraries is always of interest to me as a family history researcher. I don’t mind rules or fees, but I do like to hear a logical reason for denial of services. I’m reminded of my time researching in St. Thomas.

I found the 1820 record of my great-great grandmother’s baptism on microfilm at the Caribbean Genealogy Library. The film was very poor and hard to read.

The cathedral in the same town holds the original records and I went to the parish office to ask if I could see it. I was told I needed to petition the Monsignor in a letter, which I did. My request was denied because the records are “too fragile.” I asked what measures were being taken to preserve the records. None, I was told. So the records are deteriorating day by day in an unforgiving climate, and no one can see them. They will crumble into dust whether someone looks at them or not. I’m still angry about it.

I understand the difference between historical parish records and public library holdings but I strongly believe in access to information, whatever it may be, and however reasonably controlled or regulated.

None of this has anything to do with printing insurance documents except to say that the small town librarian who assisted me also gave me lots of information about where I might find records to help with our family history research. She was for access, not against it. And I nearly danced back to the van, printouts in hand, happy to have a few new leads to follow, and grateful to a local librarian who took the time to help a stranger.

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