Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has announced that the Georgia Archives will be CLOSED to general public access beginning November 1, 2012. In addition to the elimination of public access, staff reductions affecting the ten remaining employees are planned and will be announced soon. Even if you do not live in Georgia, this issue is of vital concern to all in the historical and archival communities and we ask your help in getting the decision reversed.
After November 1, Georgia will become the only state without a fully accessible state archives. The public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments will be severely limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees. Kemp cites as reason a mandate from the governor for a 3 percent budget reduction for all state agencies.
Secretary Kemp has chosen to take the required cut of $750,000 entirely and only from the State Archives. Over the past decade, however, the Georgia Archives has been eviscerated by regular budget cuts, reductions in staff and reductions in public hours to 2 days a week. Now Secretary Kemp wants to eliminate even those few hours of access for Georgia’s citizens.
Tell the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Georgia Legislature to reverse this devastating decision. If you live in Georgia, schedule a visit with your state legislator. If you are not in Georgia, e-mail or call and ask the state’s elected officials to:
- Restore a minimum of $1 million to the Georgia Archives budget to return its operations to 5 days a week of public access hours and eliminate projected staff reductions.
- Reverse the Secretary of State’s proposed budget cuts to the Archives by November 1 to ensure uninterrupted service to the public.
The consequences this closure will have on historians, archivists, educators, students, researchers and other stakeholders are obvious. When you write, call or visit, relate in your own words and use personal examples of the detrimental impact this decision will have, particularly if you are a citizen of Georgia.
Contact information for Georgia elected officials:
Governor Nathan Deal
206 Washington Street
Suite 203, State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: (404) 656-1776
Fax: (404) 657-7332
Email – “contact us” form
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle
240 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
TEL: (404) 656-5030
FAX: (404) 656-6739
Secretary of State Brian Kemp
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: (404) 656-2881
Fax: (404) 656-0513
Individual Georgia legislators: find specific legislators via Society of Georgia Archivists site: http://soga.org/involvement/legislative
There is also a Facebook page called “Georgians Against Closing State Archives” where you can sign an on-line petition. While that’s helpful, direct contact is even more effective. For Georgians, a visit to your local legislator will have even more impact. There has been a great deal of attention on radio, newspapers, television and the Internet. In a democracy, however, nothing speaks to the governor or elected officials like direct contact from individuals. Speak up for the Georgia Archives. Write, call or plan a visit today!
Suggested Points to make in letters/phone calls or visits:
1. The Secretary of State was directed to reduce his budget expenditures by 3 percent. The entire sum needed to accomplish that has been taken from the Archives budget alone and will result in the termination of all public hours. The proposed “access by appointment…limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees” effectively denies access based on “reasonable time and place” for inspection of public records as required by Georgia law.
2. Points to make regarding the importance of access to government records for educational and research purposes:
- Educators and students at all levels (K-12, undergraduate and graduate school) need access to primary sources.
- Denying citizens access to their heritage and documentary record will contribute to the further decline of civic literacy.
- As the Civil War Sesquicentennial continues, historians and researchers need access to the records in the Georgia Archives to provide accurate, factual evidence of that experience.
- The Georgia Archives holds records actively sought by genealogists and family historians; in particular, they provide essential evidence for African-American history and genealogical research not available in many private historical collections.
3. Points to make regarding the importance of access to government records for accountability and legal purposes:
- This deprives citizens of regular and predictable access, as mandated in the Georgia Records Act.
- It is contrary to the practice of government transparency by depriving citizens of predictable and ready access to the records that are essential to providing evidence of government accountability.
- It deprives citizens, as well as Georgia’s own government, of access to records needed to support due process of law.
- Access to records is essential to avoid costly litigation that will result if records cannot be located or accessed.