What is the local studies library?
The Local Studies Library is a collection of c.12,000 books and pamphlets as well as maps, newspapers and ephemera . It contains a wealth of information on all aspects of the Borough's history from the earliest times to the present day. The library started off as the Staffordshire & Walsall Collection at the Central Library, Walsall in the early twentieth century and has been added to ever since.
The earliest book, Camden's Britannia, dates from 1695. The Local Studies Library was transferred to the Local History Centre to join up with the Archive Service in 1986 when the Centre opened and concentrates on the Walsall Metropolitan Borough area, having information about every aspect of its life and culture.
The Collections Librarian
The Collections Librarian (formerly known as the local studies librarian) is responsible for administering the local studies library and secondary sources at the Local History Centre, amongst other duties. This includes purchasing books, pamphlets, newspapers and microforms and making them available through catalogues and indexes. The librarian is also responsible for a programme to preserve newspapers by microfilming them.
The Local Studies Library includes:
Books and pamphlets
A large number of books on the county of Staffordshire, including the Staffordshire Historical Collections, and the transactions of the Staffordshire Record Society.
A collection of trade directories for Walsall and Staffordshire dating back 200 years.
Books on local towns and villages.
Information about people who have lived and worked in the area.
Books by authors who were born or who have lived in the area.
Information about local industries and the built environment.
Reference books to aid research including how to trace your family tree and guides to historical sources.
Periodicals and society journals about local and family history.
The library also has a number of collections of ephemera which hold valuable information about the local area.
Trade and auction catalogues which give details of the products of local firms and property sales.
Election pamphlets, details of parliamentary and municipal elections from the mid 19th century onwards.
Theatre playbills and programmes for Walsall theatres from the 19th and early 20th century.
Posters from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Societies and Organisations collection of ephemera.
The Jerome K. Jerome Collection which contains illustrations, news cuttings and other material relating to Walsall’s most famous author.
The centre has local newspapers dating from the mid 19th century, the earliest being the Walsall Free Press which began in 1856, and continuing to the present day. As newsprint is very fragile the papers have been microfilmed to save wear and tear on the originals. Since the 1960s the newspapers have been indexed for significant events and references can be found by using a card catalogue.
The Centre holds editions of Ordnance Survey maps dating from the 19th century onwards. They cover the whole of the present Metropolitan Borough. There is also a large collection of printed maps, including street maps, boundary maps, Goad plans etc.