Less than a week ago, I was advising someone that her next research activity should be to visit the Georgia State Archives. Well, now, she’d better get there in a hurry since the state has announced the closure of the Archives to most public visitors effective 1 November 2012.
In a statement on Tuesday, 11 September 2012, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian P. Kemp said that the Archives would be open to the public by “limited appointment” only. Kemp said that nearly all of the employees would be laid off.
A reduction state costs ordered by Governor Nathan Deal was cited as the reason for the closure. Deal ordered an across-the-board reduction of 3% of all state spending.
The Georgia State Archives, located 16 miles from downtown Atlanta in Morrow, Georgia, had reduced its public hours to Fridays and Saturdays only in 2010 as part of another budget crisis.
Georgia has a great website for its archives with viewable and download-able documents of all sorts. It was not clear from Tuesday’s announcement whether the web page would survive. Indeed, the web page has no mention at all about the closure. A source at the Georgia Archives told me that it was not known what would happen to the web site. The source, who was clearly distressed, also told me that staff had been given no information beyond what was publicly known and they were hoping to hear more next week.
Commentary: It was bound to happen somewhere at some time; Georgia just happened to be the first. States in general are drowning in red ink, so this is not that surprising, as horrible as it may be. It is a shame, however, that Georgia researchers are now effectively shut out of their own state’s tremendous collection of historical documents, artifacts, and ephemera. The closure must be approved by the legislature, but the likelihood of a reversal is slim. The state would just have to find some other cuts in other programs.
Here’s hoping that other states don’t [have to] follow suit.
September 14, 2012 Friday at 12:54 pm