With millions of records being created every day, we are mostly aware in age of digitization that records can disappear a lot earlier than in the paper world. It’s been a difficult transition to get our minds to accept the inevitability of a paperless society and especially difficult for a government bureaucracy that survives on mountains of paperwork.
State budget cuts have forced the Washington State Archives to radically cut its staff and, as a result, concerns have been raised that some electronic state records might be lost and access to public documents affected too. Although many of the records are genealogical, the bulk of the customers are lawyers. There are major government records, such as, legislative bills and records of the Supreme Court.
Four years ago the State Archives employed about 80 people and by the summer of 2012 there will probably be about 20. Court filings are a source of revenue and if it means raising those fees to ensure record preservation, it would surely be a no brainer as long as the revenue generated actually goes to the electronic records preservation program. The state, like many other states across the, has a $1.4 billion deficit and that is cause for concern.
When Sam Reed, Secretary of State made a priority of the digitization of archives in the state Washington it was a giant step forward. It would be a great pity to reverse all the progress. Washington has the top digital archive in the country and was used by approximately 4 million people last year.
As a family history researcher who has found family records in the state of Washington, I hope a way is found to keep important historical records safe. There could be a legion of volunteers out there willing to roll up their sleeves to help sustain the program.
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