It is always exciting when a new local archives opens in the state. On April 10, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the dedication of the Madison County Records Center, located on the third floor of Huntsville’s public library. Among those present were Madison County Commission chairman Mike Gillespie, probate judge Tommy Ragland, circuit court clerk Jane Smith, Huntsville mayor Loretta Spencer, library director Donna Schremser, library board chairman Cutter Hughes, local historian Fred Simpson, ADAH Friends of the Archives board member Jim Lee, and ADAH local records archivists Lyn Frazer and Tom Turley.
Cutting the ribbon to open Madison
County’s new archives
Over the past two years, the new archives’ development has been spearheaded by Judge Ragland. He and others at the ceremony paid tribute to
the efforts of special collections librarian Ranee Pruitt, who worked for nearly a decade to obtain first-class storage for Madison County’s historical records. The new facility will house records created prior to 1940. It will provide the archival environment necessary to preserve the records and will greatly improve public access to them.
The archives’ collection includes such valuable research resources as historical newspapers, probate estate files, and circuit court case files that go back to the pre-statehood era. Local volunteers are now preparing loose records for microfilming in the newly renovated space. In addition, ADAH is negotiating the transfer of its own small collection of Madison County records to the archives on recurring loan.
For more information about Madison County’s new records center, contact archivist Rhonda Larkin at (256)532-5989.
A Modern “Phenix City Story”
ADAH Government Records Division staff recently conducted the biggest “clean-up” operation to hit Phenix City since its heyday in the 1950s. This time, the culprits apprehended were outdated city records.
With the assistance of city clerk Anthony Hunt, other municipal officials, and local prison inmates, division staff members Frank Brown, Corlis Floyd, Lyn Frazer, Dianne Jackson, and Tom Turley spent March 21 “weeding” almost 300 cubic feet of legally disposable records from
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storage areas at city hall. Using ADAH records disposition authorities (RDAs), Lyn also identified 470 cubic feet of surplus records that the city was paying a commercial vendor to maintain. Disposing of this backlog will allow Phenix City to save almost $5,000 per year in records storage costs.
ADAH local records archivists are available to make similar “clean-up” visits (at no charge) to other counties or municipalities. For more information, call (334)242-4452.
State Records Commission
At their meeting on April 26, 2002, members of the State Records Commission approved the following records disposition authorities (RDAs):
Commission members heard annual RDA implementation reports from 23 state agencies. They also reviewed a new informational brochure, “Managing State Records in Alabama,” and approved a new procedural leaflet, “Providing Access to Government Records.”
Because the RDA that comprised its main agenda item was postponed at the agency’s request, the Local Government Records Commission did not meet this quarter.
The two commissions will meet next on Wednesday, July 24, 2002, in the Milo B. Howard Auditorium at ADAH. Meeting times will be10:00 a.m. (state) and 1:30 p.m. (local).
Examiners Provide Training
for State Regulatory Agencies
On April 17, the Examiners of Public Accounts (EPA) conducted their first training workshop for staff and board members of state regulatory boards and commissions. Mandated by the Legislative Sunset Committee, the workshop was designed to help state boards and commissions conduct operations appropriately and in accordance with state laws. State records archivists Becky Lapczynski, Kerry Pond, and Richard Wang attended the session as observers.
More than 80 attendees from various regulatory agencies across the state took part in the one-day workshop in Montgomery. As part of their training, participants were informed of basic public records laws and record-keeping responsibilities. State records archivists provided copies of applicable ADAH publications on public records laws, managing e-mail, and taking meeting minutes. (Copies are available on the ADAH web site: www.archives.state.al.us.)
In order to establish a legally sanctioned process for disposing of obsolete records, all state agencies (including regulatory boards and commissions) must obtain and implement a records disposition authority (RDA). The Examiners reminded workshop attendees that failure to implement an RDA would be cited by the EPA as non-compliance with state audit requirements.
For assistance with RDA development and implementation, contact the ADAH Government Records Division at (334)242-4452.
More on the Forthcoming SAA
As reported in a previous issue, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) will hold its annual meeting August 19-25 at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham. Besides the regular archival sessions, this conference will offer six “basic train-
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ing” seminars on archival work, entitled “Archives Unplugged” (see SLRN, December 2001).
The conference’s organizers hope to inform and entertain our state’s visitors by focusing on Alabama’s diverse history. Tours will take in everything from antebellum homes in Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties to sites important in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the development of Birmingham’s iron industry.
In addition, ADAH local records staff will chair a panel discussion on the loose records microfilming program. The session will also include representatives of the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) and loose records projects from Jefferson and Tallapoosa Counties.
For more information on the SAA meeting, call Alden Monroe at (334)242-4452, ext. 261, or consult SAA’s web site: /www.archivists.org.
Statewide Digitizing Project
The Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL) has received a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to undertake a statewide planning effort to add digital collections to the resources of the Alabama Virtual Library.
“The Cornerstone Project: Building the Foundation for Sharing Unique Treasures” is a collaborative, statewide initiative to enable Alabamians to explore many images–diaries, letters, and other special materials and artifacts–all from the convenience of a desktop computer. This project focuses on materials that supplement the 10th and 11th grade social studies curriculum.
Initially, the Cornerstone Project will digitize historically significant materials from the
collections of ADAH, Auburn University, The University of Alabama, and Birmingham Public Library. However, any interested repository in Alabama can participate by digitizing its own unique collections or by working with the four project centers to have its materials digitized.
NAAL will coordinate this program to assure that Alabama students, teachers, and other citizens–as well as scholars throughout the world– can explore Alabama's unique historical treasures online. The project will result in a comprehensive, web-based digital collection of documents, images, recordings, maps, and multimedia chronicling U.S. and Alabama history.
Readers can review the grant application narrative at: www.ache.state.al.us/NAAL (choose the “Cornerstone Project”). For additional information, or to participate, contact: Sue O. Medina, Director, Network of Alabama Academic Libraries, P. O. Box 302000, Montgomery, AL 36130-2000; telephone (334)242-2211; e-mail: smedina @ache.state.al.us.
In 1997, the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property, Inc., in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), produced the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel. It offers a series of emergency response steps for agencies when salvaging records damaged by water from fire hoses, floods, severe storms, or broken pipes. The wheel should be used within 48 hours after the emergency, for quick action is critical to saving records that might otherwise be lost.
Side one of the wheel lists steps to address the critical stages of disaster response: stabilizing the building and environment, assessing damage, and establishing salvage priorities. Side two, Salvage
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Steps, provides practical tips for salvaging various types of collections: books and paper (records), photographs, electronic media, paintings, textiles, and furniture. There is also a glossary of such terms as air-drying, freezing, vacuum freeze drying, etc.
To purchase an Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel, contact: Heritage Preservation, 1730 K Street, NW, Suite 566, Washington, DC 20006; telephone (202)634-1422; e-mail www. heritagepreservation.org/programs/rfwheel.htm. Information may also be viewed on FEMA’s web site: http://www.fema.gov/r-n-r/ers_ wl.htm.
Remember that the wheel is only a quick reference guide. In an actual emergency, contact conservation specialists for advice as soon as possible. For questions on records conservation issues, contact Linda Overman at the ADAH Government Records Division, (334)242-4452, ext. 229; e-mail email@example.com. al.us.
• ADAH is this year’s recipient of the 2002 SOLINET Outstanding Library Award.
• A Birmingham television station recently featured “live” coverage of Jefferson County’s loose records project, showing its 60 volunteers hard at work preparing records. A CD of the broadcast will be shown at the forthcoming Society of American Archivists’ conference in Birmingham.
• Before its latest session ended, the Alabama legislature confirmed the reappointment of two members of the ADAH board of trustees: Ms. Shirley D. McCrary of Mooresville, representing the 5th Congressional District; and Mr. Morris W. Savage of Jasper, representing the 4th Congressional District. Under their new appointments, both will serve on the board through December 2008.