Legislative Session Should Be Good For Archives

This time last year Georgia Archives supporters were working hard to get much-needed funds back into the budget.

What a difference a year makes.

The 2013 Georgia legislature restored some funds, allowing the Archives to open four days a week. The Archives also was able to hire three new employees: a conservator, Kimberly Norman, most recently at Emory University; and two archivists, Allison Hudgins, most recently at the Cobb County Public Library System; and Jill Sweetapple, most recently at the DeKalb History Center.

Gov. Nathan Deal recently released his budget requests for Fiscal Year 2015.

The governor requested an increase of $476,041 for operating the Archives. The sum includes $460,000 to allow the Archives to open to the public five days a week and to hire six additional employees. The remaining funds would be used for adjustments to employees’ retirement, insurance and salaries.

In addition, the governor recommended an expenditure of $957,910 for maintenance of the Archives building. Archives director Christopher Davidson said he did not know whether the sum was a one-time expenditure to “catch up” with maintenance or an annual amount. He said the money would be used for energy and labor-saving measures, such as replacing outdated lighting.

The director said he anticipated that some of the funding would be appropriated through amended the FY14 budget and some included in the FY15 budget.

The budget still must go through the legislative process, which generally does not end until near the end of the session.

In his report, the governor stated that the purpose of the appropriation is “to maintain the state’s archives; document and interpret the history of the Georgia State Capitol building; and assist state agencies with adequately documenting their activities, administering their records management programs, scheduling their records, and transferring their non-current records to the State Records Center.”

The situation at the Archives will improve in the coming months, thanks in large part to the diligent actions of Archives supporters. However, everyone knows what can happen if advocates forget.

Contact your legislators at least once during this session, just to let them know we are still watching. Thank the lawmakers, Gov. Deal and the Board of Regents for their support. They will be watching, too. Now that the Archives will be open five days a week, it is important that researchers use the facility we all have worked so hard to save.

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