31 December 2007

Increased archives budget good for genealogists

Some good news for genealogists, family historians, roots searchers and others who share mutual interests, from IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee chair Jan Meisels Allen:

The budget for the US National Archives and Records Administration was a problem in 2006 and 2007, which saw cuts in research hours and staff levels. However, the 2008 budget, just signed by President Bush into law, increases NARA's budget by 20.5% over 2007.

According to a December 28, 2007 press release:

“I am very pleased that the Congress and the President have recognized the importance of the work of the National Archives and the urgency of our needs for increased staffing and greater public access,” said Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States. “We will restore our regular research hours and bring on more trained archivists as soon as possible.”

Professor Weinstein added, “The resources being provided to us reflect a recognition of the dedicated and professional work of Archives’ staff during this period of fiscal austerity. They not only have worked to maintain access to records of our democracy, but they also have expanded that access.”

Specific provisions of genealogic interest:

*$2.1 million to restore important customer services, including $1.3 million to return to the public research hours reduced in October 2006 and $800,000 to hire more staff archivists to replace those who left the agency over the past few years.

*Continuation of work on the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) provision of full funding of $58 million, compared to 2007's funding of $45.2 million.

The ERA is being built by the Archives to preserve and make accessible all electronic records produced by the Federal government now and in the future, and to allow access to these records to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The National Archives and Records Administration is the record keeper for the Federal government and operates major facilities in downtown Washington,DC, College Park, MD, locations in 17 states and an additional District of Columbia facility.

To learn more about the bill's provisions, read the press release by NARA director, Dr. Allen Weinstein, here.

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