While PRONI is a great place to find sources for local history, you will soon find that you’ll also need to visit your local library. More and more these days, libraries are joining regional or national schemes which will allow users from others areas to access (and sometimes borrow) their books and other holdings. If you’re a student at a UK or Irish university, you can take advantage of the SCONUL network. For students in participating universities (which is pretty much everyone), this allows you to gain access to the library of any other participating university. When more and more university libraries are only accessible via a swipe card, getting a SCONUL card can be the only way for you to gain access.
But for those of you who aren’t affiliated to a university, there are a growing number of options. LISC Inspire is a network of libraries across Northern Ireland who have joined together to make their collections more widely available. People who are members of their local library can sign up for LISC Inspire Passport. This is a card which tells the library you are visiting that you are a genuine learner and that your special requirements for information cannot be dealt with by your local library.
The LISC Inspire network of libraries includes Queen’s University, the University of Ulster, all of the Library Board libraries along with a range of specialist libraries, such as the NI Assembly library, the Education Centre library and the Medical library based at Altnagelvin Hospital.
For more information about LISC Inspire and how to go about getting your Passport, go to www.liscni.co.uk.