February 17, 2018

Update: Georgia Archives No Longer To Close

Gov. Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced on October 18 that the state will restore $125,000 to Kemp’s budget to keep the Georgia State Archives open for its current scheduled hours through June 30 of next year.

On July 1,  the Georgia Archives will be transferred to the University System of Georgia, pending approval by  the General Assembly.  The transfer would include appropriations for operation and assets of the Archives. Deal and Kemp “intend to find efficiencies by consolidating the Archives” under the University System, “just as the state has sought to do with the library system,” they said in a statement.

Previously, the Archives had been scheduled to close to the public on November 1 because of budget cuts. The public would have been permitted to access the building by appointment; “however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees,” the archives website stated.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, seven of the archives 10 employees had been laid off in response to the need to cut more than $700,000 from Kemp’s budget, as part of the Governor’s mandate to cut 3 percent and thus offset slow growth in tax collection. (Previous reductions included other layoffs and hours cuts beginning in 2008, according to the Journal-Constitution.)

The move is a triumph for protesters, who took their case to the public via a Facebook page, a petition, and a rally, as well as a letter from Jackie M. Dooley, president of the Society of American Archivists, saying that the “decision would be in violation of Georgia’s Records Act.”

While both Deal and Kemp had previously expressed support for reopening the archives, doing it this year is a definite turnaround. “It’ll have to be resolved in the budget process, which is just now beginning, so we’re a long way off from the Legislature passing a spending plan. What happens on Nov. 1 is up to the secretary of state’s office,” Brian Robinson, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for communications, had previously told LJ.

Linda Davis, in a letter sent to Georgians Against Closing State Archives (GACSA), said Kemp had told her he has not and will not consider rescinding his decision before November 1. GACSA is a group launched by librarians Elizabeth Dill and Buffy Hamilton.

Among the reasons he couldn’t cut elsewhere, Kemp pointed to Georgia’s anti-illegal-immigrants-bill, which has drastically increased the paperwork burden on his office; an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, which prevents further cuts in the division that oversees state elections; and the Dodd-Frank Act, which prevents cuts to the securities division.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.