They have been called “the Magnificent Seven.” They are the employees whose tenure at the Georgia Archives, barring a change of heart or successful intervention, will come to end on Nov. 1.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced last week that, not only would the Archives be closed to the public, but that seven of the remaining 10 employees would lose their jobs. As of Nov. 1, there will be only three employees. Just in the last 10 years the staff has been cut from 54 to three. Since 1982 the staff has been cut by almost 90 percent.
This is not to say that other lay-offs have not deprived Georgia citizens of considerable talent and experience, but this round is especially painful.
Their jobs range from caring for records to working with the public to managing the scanning projects and Web site to receiving, indexing and storing records from government agencies to writing grant applications for private funding.
The seven have a combined 113 years of experience at the Georgia Archives and 144 years overall, including a total of 50 years of management experience. Three are former presidents of the Society of Georgia Archivists.
The seven are five professionals and two paraprofessionals; all of the professionals have advanced library and archival degrees.
Archives Director Chris Davidson will have a tough job deciding how to deal with all the tasks with only three employees (including himself, one archivist and the building superintendent).
Following is a glimpse into just a few of the jobs of the staffers who will be lost:
- Helping the public, including agencies and local governments, with reference requests, both at the Archives and through “Ask an Archivist.”
- Coordinating outreach activities such as Lunch and Learn and teaching and making presentations to workshops, records management training sessions, the Georgia Archives Institute and college classes.
- Coordinating Web site updates.
- Building and maintaining online collections: digitizing materials, developing metadata, indexing and uploading to the Virtual Vault.
- Maintaining the records management system for inventory control.
- Maintaining the Georgia Archives portion of the GALILEO Interconnected Libraries Catalog.
- Coordinating the transfer of permanent records from state agencies to the Archives and advising agency records managers on retention schedules, procedures for transfer and appropriate descriptions.
- Arranging, describing, rehousing when appropriate and cataloging state records, county records, manuscript collections, photographs, books and serials.
- Writing proposals for outside funding (R. J. Taylor, Jr., Foundation for scanning, the National Endowment for the Humanities funding for a project designed to reduce future utilities costs and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to help fund Historical Records Advisory Board activities).
- Carrying out the preservation program including cleaning and rehousing records and preparing them for scanning, as well as book and document repair.
- Supervising volunteers, interns and staff involved in the scanning program.
- Maintaining specialized equipment for scanning and public access, working with vendors and maintenance contracts.
- Monitoring the building environment to ensure safety of the records.
- Developing an Archives disaster plan, working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and storing plans from other institutions in a disaster plan “bank.”
- Advising and assisting local governments and other state and local institutions on the recovery of records in case of disaster.
2 responses to “The Staff – What We Stand To Lose”
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The staff and the Georgia Archives are one in the same. Recent events do not change the fact that the Archives will be losing years of accumulated knowledge. Retaining two of the seven who were supposed to lose their jobs on Nov. 1 is not nearly enough to keep the Archives alive! And what happens to this retained staff when the Archives begins to be staffed by the University System of Georgia? How will staff from the University System of Georgia be able to immediately know how to access, preserve, and interpret the Georgia records? An Archives is not a library! Records are so specific, and the system to catalog and retrieve them is as well. It takes years to learn these types of records. Temporarily retaining current hours and two more staff members is not a victory as some are stating! More questions need to be asked about how new staff members from the University System will gain knowledge of the records when a large portion of the knowledge will be gone as of November 1. If you lose any of the staff, you will probably lose access to portions of the records. How can the Governor and SOS not understand this? One warm body does not replace another warm body next year and somehow save the current Archives! Also, what happens when the University System decides to make cuts next year or two years from now, as UGA has recently done? Who do we write letters to and petition next time the Archives is in the line of fire?