Government Records News
News from the State and Local Government Record Commissions
Vol. 4 No. 1 August 1999




Commissions Approve New, Revised Records Disposition Authorities

At its meeting on July 29, 1999, the State Records Commission approved new records disposition authorities (RDAs) for the ALABAMA ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL BOARD, the HOME BUILDERS' LICENSURE BOARD, and the ALABAMA PEACE OFFICERS' STANDARDS AND TRAINING COMMISSION. The commission also approved revisions of the RDAs for the ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY and the OFFICE OF THE STATE AUDITOR, and reviewed annual RDA implementation reports from state agencies with approved RDAs.

The Local Government Records Commission's July meeting was canceled after a local government requested the postponement of its RDA, which was the major agenda item for the meeting. The draft RDA and other pending matters will be held over for the commission to consider in October.

The next meeting of the State and Local Government Records Commissions will be held on Thursday, October 28, 1999, in the Milo B. Howard Auditorium of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, 624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery. Starting times are 10:00 a.m. (State) and 1:30 p.m. (Local).

New Member Assigned to the State and Local Government Records Commissions

Joanne Ninesling, who had represented the Secretary of State's Office on the State and Local Government Records Commissions since January, 1998, resigned from service in April 1999. ADAH has appreciated Ms. Ninesling's work on the commissions. Secretary of State Jim Bennett appointed Margaret Tyus as his new representative.



State Agency Advisory Committee Reorganized

Under Sections 41-13-20 and -21 of the Code of Alabama 1975, the State Records Commission is charged with determining the disposition of all state government records. The commission, in carrying out its responsibilities, may issue guidelines, rules, and regulations on records classification and retention. In 1997, the ADAH Government Records Division (GRD), which acts as the commission's staff, established a State Agency Advisory Committee to obtain advice and feedback from state agencies about commission procedures that affect the appraisal and disposition of state government records. The committee is composed of state agency representatives, several of whom have worked with GRD staff on records disposition authorities (RDAs) or other records management issues. During the past year, several committee members have retired or separated from state service, requiring the selection of new members by GRD staff. As currently organized, the State Agency Advisory Committee includes the following ten members: Hanna Bates (Office of the Secretary of State), Scott Demick ( Department of Environmental Management), Roscoe Howell (Department of Public Safety), Linda Lupian (Crime Victims Compensation Commission), Cindy Pitts (Department of Rehabilitation Services), Linda Nelson (Office of Voter Registration), David Rosenblatt (Auburn University), Sharon Russell (Examiners of Public Accounts), Arlene Smith (Department of Revenue), and Marilyn Tucker (Department of Finance). The ADAH Government Records Division appreciates the support of these agencies in its efforts to preserve the state's archival records and improve state records management.



Records of Governor's Office and Other State Agencies Transferred to ADAH

As one of its responsibilities, the Government Records Division continues to acquire the records of state agencies. Highlights of our acquisitions since the last issue of Government Records News include: 77 cubic feet of records from the Governor's Office, including Vetoed Bills (1999), News Clippings (1987-1990, 1994-1997), Administrative Files (1993-1997), Appointments (1986-1992), Subject Files (1980-1997), Correspondence (1995-1996), and State Vehicle Usage Reports (1995-1997); Secretary of State Enrolled Acts (1996); Finance Director Records of Administrative Head (1993-1999); Nursing Board Meeting Minutes (1981-1992); and Corrections Program Administrative Records (1926-1976).

Records of 1998-99 Legislative Session, ABC Board to be Available at ADAH

Observers of Alabama's recent legislative session will be glad to learn that its records are becoming available for research in the ADAH reference room. By working closely with the Secretary of State's Office, the Governor's Office, and the legislature to transfer their records in a timely manner, Government Records Division archivists are able to ensure that this valuable public information is quickly accessible to the people of our state.

Among the last session's more interesting items was HB-535, which passed both houses of the legislature but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor. Ostensibly, the bill was submitted as a change in the law governing the age of servers of alcohol, but buried in its lengthy text was language to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays. Since vetoing HB-535, Governor Siegelman has asked his staff and legislative allies to investigate how such wording could have been hidden in the bill, and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future.

Researchers of state alcohol control policy will soon find other records at ADAH to stimulate their interest. With the State Records Commission's passage of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's RDA (see p. 1 above), Government Records Division archivists will work with the agency to transfer some of its voluminous records to ADAH for reference use. To check on the availability of these or other records in ADAH collections, call the archival reference desk at (334)242-4435, ext. 252.

Loose Records Volunteer Training Workshop to be Held at ADAH

ADAH will conduct another training workshop for loose records project volunteers on Wednesday, August 18, in the Milo Howard Auditorium of the Archives building (624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery). The workshop will start at 9:00 a.m. and finish at 12:30 p.m. Government Records Division archivists and staff from the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) will provide instruction on loose records preparation. Volunteers who have not yet started work on their loose records, or who could not come to our earlier workshops, are especially encouraged to attend. Staff of county probate offices and circuit courts participating in the program are also welcome.

About 25 Alabama counties are already preparing loose marriage licenses, divorces, estate case files, and Confederate pension records for microfilming by the GSU. Another 15 counties have expressed interest in starting a loose records project. If your county government, historical society or genealogical society would like more information on this program, please contact Tom Turley at the ADAH Government Records Division (334)242-4452, ext. 234, or tturley@archives.state.al.us.

ADAH Staff, Students Assist City of Auburn in Disaster Recovery

Students from Auburn University's graduate program in archives, advised by Government Records Division archivists, recently provided on-site disaster recovery assistance to the City of Auburn, where a basement records storage area flooded during heavy rains in June. Students Steve Murray, Bertis English, Mark Myers, and Dave Dryden spent two weeks air-drying wet records according to instructions from ADAH conservation officer Linda Overman. Later, archivists Frank Brown and Tom Turley visited Auburn to advise city officials on destruction procedures for records too badly damaged to be salvaged. Another Auburn student, Sylvia Hahnsman, will complete the salvage project. ADAH staff members continue to work with the city on improving its records storage areas and management procedures.

Any state or local agency may request ADAH on-site assistance in solving problems of records management and preservation. For information on salvaging water-damaged records, see the article below and Government Records News, vol. 2, no. 2 (September, 1997).

Air-Drying Wet Records Volumes or Other Books

The best method for drying books depends on the degree of wetness. Air-drying is most appropriate for books that are only damp or wet in places. If books cannot be opened to air-dry, they should not be forced. Instead, vacuum freeze-dry them to minimize the cockling of leaves and distortion of bindings. ( For a list of companies that perform vacuum freeze-drying, contact Linda Overman at the ADAH Government Records Division, [334]242-4452, ext. 229, or loverman@archives.state.al.us. The following method is recommended for air-drying wet books:

1. Move the books to be air-dried to a clean, dry area where the temperature and relative humidity can be kept as low as possible (preferably around 65 degrees F. and 50% relative humidity) to prevent mold growth.

2. Use fans to keep the air moving at all times, but do not allow air to blow directly on the books. Air circulation will aid in drying and also discourage mold growth. If drying has to be performed outdoors, keep the books out of wind and direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to heat and sunlight accelerates paper's degradation.

3. Cover tables with Visqueen (plastic sheeting). Carefully supporting the wet books, stand them on end (upside down) on a small stack of paper towels. This will allow water to drain from the volumes. To keep the humidity down, replace paper towels and take them from the drying room as soon as they get wet. Once the books stop draining, they can be laid flat to continue drying.

4. Separate books by their degree of wetness, and concentrate on salvaging the wettest books first. Use two or three paper towels or sheets of blank (unprinted) newsprint to interleave book pages and absorb moisture. Place towels inside the front and back covers, then interleave them every 20-25 pages, starting from the back of the book and turning the pages carefully. (Interleaving at more frequent intervals will increase distortion of the volume.) Lay the book flat on several paper towels. Continue to replace the wet paper towels until the book is nearly dry. Turn the book over each time that it is interleaved.

5. Books that are only slightly wet may be stood on end, fanned open, and allowed to air-dry. To minimize distortion of page edges, lay the volumes flat under light pressure just before drying is complete. If stored in an air-conditioned room (with temperature between 50-65 degrees F., and relative humidity between 25-35%), books with wet edges will dry without interleaving in about two weeks.

6. When books are dry but still cool to the touch, close them and lay them flat on a table to continue drying. Gently form each book back into its normal shape: the spine should be convex and the front edge concave. Use a light weight (e.g., a paper-wrapped brick) to hold the book in place. Do not stack drying books on top of each other. If it is done very carefully--so that the spine is outside the boards-a book may be placed in a book press to facilitate flattening as much as possible.

Following drying, some distortion of the books is likely; it may, in fact, be quite extensive. Dampness will persist for some time in the inner margins, along the spines, and between boards and end papers. Books should not be returned to shelves until they are completely dry. Check the books often for mold growth, both during drying and for about a year afterward.

"Government Records News" is published by the Government Records Division of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, P.O. Box 300100, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0100, telephone (334)242-4452. The newsletter, and other publications, are also available on-line through the ADAH web site: http://www.archives.state.al.us.


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Created: 08/10/1999