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What else can we do?

Concern over the budget issues of the Library of Virginia (LVA) — Virginia’s state archives and library in Richmond — is clearly broadly felt within our genealogical community.

After yesterday’s blog about LVA and the bills now pending in the Virginia General Assembly that offer some hope to restore some funding,1 a number of readers asked the same question:

What else can we do?

After all, because Virginia was such a key location for colonial immigration, the Library of Virginia is the repository holding many of our families’ most ancient and most important records in the New World — and it’s critical to our research that those records remain safe, secure, and accessible.

vgs_logoMany members of our community are taking action now to send emails to the members of the legislature’s budget committees to support the restoration of funds to LVA, and if you haven’t done so already, please join in.

It doesn’t take long — an hour at the very most — and the impact of the combined voices of hundreds or even thousands of genealogists can be enormous.

There are specific suggestions on the Virginia Genealogical Society website,2 but let me repeat them:

First: Do it today!!

Download and read the “Open Letter to Members” [click here for PDF] and contact the members of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees. Contact information is included in the “Letter.”

Second:

It will take legislative action to restore the funds necessary to reopen the Library on Saturday. Contact your personal legislators in person, by phone, email, and letter (http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/). Let them know your concern. Ask them to support the restoration of the funding for the lost archival positions so that the library can reopen on Saturday and continue to process the collections that it receives.

Third:

Ask your legislators to support the code changes outlined in the letter to members. We need to ensure that the Library’s mission of providing access to our history to all citizens is part of the Code of Virginia.

Don’t Live in Virginia?

Write the governor; write the members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations committee. Remind them that you have voting relatives in Virginia, that your tourist dollars support the Virginia tourism industry and that they have a responsibility to see that Virginia’s history is preserved and available to all. We need your voices too.

But yes, beyond those steps, there is more any genealogist with Virginia roots can do: join the Virginia Genealogical Society.

We speak the loudest on issues of common concern when we speak with one voice, and joining the organization that’s leading the fight will add your voice to this and all other issues of records access in the Old Dominion. That’s not the only benefit of membership, of course: there’s an award-winning journal, the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, that comes with being a member; there are seminars, special programs and events; there are discounts on various research guides and publications.

But even if we don’t use a single other benefit of membership — and membership is only $35 a year or $95 for three years — it’s worth it just to add our voice to those of all the others who are concerned about records access in Virginia.

Live in another state where you’re worried about the libraries and the archives? Join the genealogical society there, too. Get involved. Stay informed. A list of possible organizations to consider joining is posted every year in this blog — the December 2016 list is here.

And, whatever you do — don’t give up.

Together, we can make our voices heard.


SOURCES

  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Records access alert: LVA funding,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 30 Jan 2017 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 31 Jan 2017).
  2. See “Please Help a Treasure House in Trouble: The Library of Virginia,” Virginia Genealogical Society (http://vgs.org/ : accessed 31 Jan 2017).
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