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Not good enough

Even as an interim measure, the plan announced yesterday by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to offer some public access to the Georgia State Archives after November 1st is, to put it mildly, Not Good Enough.

The plan was reported yesterday in the Atlanta Business Chronicle online and posted on the Georgia State Archives website: researchers will be able to make appointments to access the Archives only during the first two weeks of each month and only for a maximum of two and a half hours.

According to Kemp’s press release, “The Georgia Archives currently averages 74 patrons per week (296/month). The average visitor spends 3 hours at the Archives.” His theory, of course, is that his plan will accommodate most of those needs: “The plan will allow 78 (36 2-hour; 42 2.5-hour) appointments per month in the Open Documents Research Area (ODRA), 120 (2 hour) appointments per month in Microfilm Reference, and 90 (2 hour) appointments per month in Open Reference. This would allow 288 visitors, which is 97% of the visitors that Archives accommodates now, but they will be limited to 2 or 2.5 hours.”

Oh, my. He just doesn’t get it, does he?

Let’s start with the fact that the Archives is only open two days a week now. So the number of researchers he’s reporting is way down just because access is already limited. Move on to the fact that the most serious researchers — and those from out of state — are likely to be there all day every day the building is open. Move on from there to the fact that one entire week of access appointments now will be microfilm only (which … ahem … could be put online if the staff wasn’t being cut to the point where little if anything else can be put online)… and what we have here is records access disaster.

Those who actually want to use archived documents in the Open Documents Research Area “will have to provide staff with specific requests when they make the appointment so they can have records pulled and waiting on them when they arrive.” Which means that you’ll need at least two trips if — as is the usual case in our research — looking at document number one in one record group tells you that you should also look at document number two in another record group that you didn’t know of before.

Now Kemp says he “will continue to work with the Governor, General Assembly and other interested parties to restore funding and access to the Archives.” But there is clearly no sense of urgency, no acknowledgment of the loss to the public and no real appreciation for the role of a modern archives in modern society.

We have to keep the pressure on if we are to have any hope of saving the Georgia Archives. Please… keep on top of developments — the website of the Friends of Georgia Archives and History (FOGAH) is a really good source — and let the decision-makers know this is an issue that matters to you.

Because what we’re about to be left with is just Not Good Enough.

In the meantime, to make a research appointment for after November 1, you’ll need to contact Christopher M. Davidson at cdavidson@sos.ga.gov or 678-364-3714. Your options are shown in the table below:

Week 1:      
Original Documents      
  Thursday Friday Saturday
8:00 – 10:00 7 Appointments 7 Appointments 7 Appointments
10:00 – 10:30 Pull Records Pull Records Pull Records
10:30 – 1:00 7 Appointments 7 Appointments 7 Appointments
1:00 – 1:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch
1:30 – 2:00 Pull Records Pull Records Pull Records
2:00 – 4:30 7 Appointments 7 Appointments 7 Appointments
       
Week 2:      
Microfilm      
  Thursday Friday Saturday
8:00 – 10:00 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
10:00 – 12:00 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:30 – 2:30 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
2:30 – 4:30 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
       
Open Reference      
  Thursday Friday Saturday
8:00 – 10:00 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
10:00 – 12:00 5 Appointments (ODRA) 5 Appointments (ODRA) 5 Appointments (ODRA)
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:30 – 2:30 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
2:30 – 4:30 10 Appointments 10 Appointments 10 Appointments
       
       
Week 3:      
Closed      
       
Week 4:      
Closed      
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