Help keep the Georgia Archives open

I previously reported on the closure of the Georgia Archives, effective 1 November 2012. Since then quite a bit has happened, including the termination of seven of the ten remaining employees, leaving only three employees to service all of the Archives’ functions.

At noon on October 3, the Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives and the Friends of the Georgia Archives & History will be leading a rally at the Georgia Capitol Rotunda. It is very important that this rally has a large turnout, in order to truly influence the decision-makers. If you are anywhere near Atlanta, please try to make it to this rally. See the flyer below for more information.

For those of you who cannot make it to Atlanta on October 3, you can still help by signing the petition to keep the Archives open. At the time of this writing, the petition has just under 16,000 supporters. It has been promoted by archivists, historians, genealogists, and librarians in states around the nation. More help is still needed. The petition has a goal of 20,000 signatures. To be sure that our voices are heard, we should try to surpass that goal.

Governor Deal has vowed to keep the Archives open. That was before 70% of the employees lost their jobs. Ironically, he also declared October as “Archives Month.” Hopefully, we are making the Secretary of State reconsider his decision, but so far nothing has changed. We obviously need to do more.

Visit the Friends of the Georgia Archives & History’s website at http://www.fogah.org/ for more actions you can take to help.

Capitol Rally 10-3-12

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Michael,

    Yesterday, NARA held it’s annual Records Administration Office Conference, it’s 24th. The main topic of discussion was the Presidential Records Management memoranda announced November 28, 2011 in which the President of the United States requested the Chief Records Officer set out “to develop a 21st-century framework for the management of Government records. This framework will provide a foundation for open Government, leverage information to improve agency performance, and reduce unnecessary costs and burdens.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/28/presidential-memorandum-managing-government-records accessed 26 Sept 2012) What does this have to do with Georgia? Everything. Let me explain.

    During the morning, there was a Q&A session. In that session, questions are taken from the audience as well as those participating in the conference virtually. As an Archivist, and a Genealogist, I took the opportunity to ask what, if anything, NARA or the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, had to say about this situation, framing it in the context that the State’s actions are counter to what is happening at the Federal level. The ‘non-answer’ that both Paul Webster, Director of the Modern Records Program, provided, along with the answer of David Ferriero, only underscores how dire this situation has become. You can see their answers in the video ( http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25699469) starting at 1:22:19 and ending at 1:23:37.

    Additionally, as was noted on the Facebook page “Georgians Against Closing State Archives” yesterday, Linda Davis met directly with Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. (apologies for not providing the link; I’m working on a computer that does not allow access to Facebook). I will quote the final words of her post (which I was able to access via my cell phone): “We will not get anywhere through the Secretary of State, even though he is ultimately the one running this show. I suggest we move on to another source. I am not sure who that would be. I am open to suggestions.”

    The consequences of the State of Georgia closing its Archives cannot be stressed enough. While, as a genealogist, I would hate to see us all take a giant leap backward in our ability to access records, the more dire fact remains our government was formed to be OPEN to everyone, and by shutting off access to ANY records of the State, the government is being closed to the People. It isn’t about history; we’re talking about the day to day functioning of our government. THIS is the point that those outside of the genealogical realm can understand, and the one that I hope your readers will take to their family, friends, co-workers, and whomever else will listen. If the State of Georgia can shut off access to its daily business, other States will follow.

    Reply

    • Posted by Linda Snow Davis on September 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Michael and Laura,
      I want to copy and paste my posting from my appointment with Secretary of State Brian Kemp yesterday 09-25-12. I feel the more exposure, the more help we will obtain in this project to save the Archives from being closed.

      I did see a posting just a few minutes ago, from about 21 hours ago, which was approximately 3 hours after I met with him, of Kemp addressing the media on why he was closing the Archives. He must be seeing some of our efforts. But I do not see that it will change his mind. It seems to be made up.

      My next step of thinking is possibly sharing this with each Georgia Representative. Any thoughts about that? Maybe come January when Session is in, they will at least all be aware of this mess. That might get some votes to dismiss Kemp’s proposal, Remember, it has to get passed, it is just his proposal. Keep your fingers crossed.

      Here is the posting from me.

      EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!!! Linda Davis met with Sec. Kemp IN PERSON, THIS AFTERNOON. The following are her recollections and recommendations (note: this is not a verbatim transcript). Printed with permission from Linda Davis:

      To all that are following this fight to keep the Archives open, I had my appointment with Secretary Of State Brian Kemp this afternoon.

      The following are issues I approached with him, though not word for word, these were brought to his attention.

      I specifically asked him the following:

      1. According to the Director of the Archives, Christopher Davidson, I understand that Gov. Deal still stands with his 3% budget cuts and that you control where those cuts come from.
      His answer, yes.

      2. What other Departments and how many are under the SOS? Why is the Archives taking the brunt of the cuts?
      His answer: There were numerous other departments, he named a few. Then he informed me that the Archives was taking the full 3%.

      Asked why, he said: He had no funds to work with taking away from the other departments. ( his lengthy words around the issue, basically, were that their funds were too important) But he did add that the Archives was important too, but the other departments just did not have the funds to take from)

      3. Limited appointment for use and access will never work, I understand government officials get first priority to appointment time, so, if we as individuals are not able to obtain an appointment, where then can we find the holdings for access?
      His answer: He doesn’t know that, we would have to ask the State Legislators.

      4. Isn’t it against the law, as a Open Records Law State, to close the facility and not make it accessible to the citizens during reasonable business hours? There is no transparency if there is no access.
      His answer: No, it is not against the law. We have transparency. The facility has to be open for 1 day a week for what it is presently open for. That is 1 day of limited appointments.

      MY thought here: Duh, well, it hasn’t completely closed yet, so what is he talking about. It is presently open on Fridays and Saturdays, full days,( I think it is still open on Fridays??) so how does he figure changing that to one day of appointments is the same as being open a full day?

      5. The three employees that have been left to maintain the appointments will not be able to provide the necessary needs to maintain, preserve, care for, provide assistance and everything else involved in patrons and records. What about those 7 employees that have been let go?
      His answer: It was the hardest thing he had to do, letting the 7 employees go. He had no choice.

      8. Can you tell me since you took office, what cuts have you made and what percentage and what departments took the cuts?
      His answer: I have that here somewhere. He got up and looked around a minute, came back and shoveled papers around looking, and then said, they were here somewhere. They are on the website. We have Transparency on our website, it is all there.

      I expressed my disappointment in the closing issue and the fact that if the decision stays the same, it was not right for the citizens to be kept from using these documents. I expressed my opinion that the limited appointments would never work and that I could guarantee that. He asked how I could guarantee that. I answered, give me 3 months and I will tell you. In other words, he would see, that would be obvious.

      I am leaving out all of the wasted breath he used, to try and go around the issue. He obviously has decided the closing of the Archives was the quickest way and easiest way to find the cuts.

      Sadly, I have to report that he has decided to stand firm on his decision. He actually answered in the end of our conversation, upon being asked had he considered rescinding his proposal or would he consider it?
      His answer: No, he has not and No he will not consider it. His decision is firm because he cannot wait until January to make the decision, it would be too late. I asked him to please reconsider rescinding the proposal before Nov. 1. He had no reply.

      That folks, is our government working for us. We will not get anywhere through the Secretary of State, even though he is ultimately the one running this show.
      I suggest we move on to another source. I am not sure who that would be. I am open to suggestions.

      Reply

      • Thank you very much for sharing this information, Linda. It is unfortunate that he seems unwilling to reconsider his decision. As an elected official, at some point he must reconsider an unpopular decision. According to the Georgia Constitution, all public officials are “trustees and servants of the people.” If this is not what the people want, then he must reconsider it.

      • Posted by ldsed@aol.com on September 27, 2012 at 7:02 am

        Michael, you are welcome. Thank you for the support in this effort. I was thinking last night, if this is a proposal, why then would he be allowed to go ahead and shut the Archives in Nov. instead of waiting until Session begins to vote on it? Are you familiar enough with the process and is that something we can approach?

        Thanks again, Linda

  2. Posted by marydouglass on September 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I signed the petition earlier and wrote to the governor.

      Mary Clement Douglass Transcribing & publishing Kansas genealogical records Have lectures, Will travel! URL: http://www.historical-matters.com   “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.” – George Bernard Shaw

    ________________________________

    Reply

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