Weekends in autumn usually find people attending football games or fall festivals.
If you are a researcher in Georgia, the four Fridays and Saturdays in October are especially precious. They are the last chance for patrons to just walk in the door at the Georgia Archives.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Georgia Secretary of State plans to close the Archives to the public on November 1 (except by appointment). He also has announced the termination of seven of the remaining 10 employees.
This past Saturday the Archives was scheduled to be closed, as it has been on every Saturday immediately preceding a Monday holiday since public access was cut to two days a week.
But, the staff of the Georgia Archives, knowing how little time may be left, volunteered to keep the research room open.
They didn’t have to do that. They could have been spending time with their families or doing those traditional fall things. They could have been sending out resumes.
But, these are no ordinary employees. They are dedicated professionals. They believe in the importance of their work. They understand how important the Archives is to Georgians.
They take pride – and rightfully so – in the job that they do. During the last few lean budget years, they have seen their colleagues cut, and they have filled in the gaps.
If the state of Georgia allows the closing of the Archives and lawmakers allocate enough money for the facility to reopen after the coming legislative session, the state will lose these knowledgeable, experienced and obviously generous employees.
Such a move is short-sighted at best. Rebuilding the institution that was once one of the best in the nation will take years and cost more than if it had been allowed to remain open.
Closing and reopening simply is not good enough.
The staff and the citizens of Georgia deserve better. Georgia needs the Archives, and it needs these dedicated public servants.
Vivian Price Saffold