Gov. Nathan Deal pledged Wednesday to keep the Georgia Archives open, buoying the hopes of archives supporters still stunned by an announcement last week to sharply curtail public access because of budget cuts.
The promise, however, came after seven of the archive’s remaining 10 full-time staff members learned they will be laid off starting Nov. 1, when regular hours cease.
The letter was sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. From the Letter:
“Although some of the materials at the Georgia Archives have been digitized, the vast majority are still only accessible through a personal visit. Closing the Archives to the public is counter to the tenets of open government and to the principle of open access to information that undergirds our democracy. This is why no other state has closed access to its state archives to the public.”
A firestorm has erupted over the state’s decision to sharply curtail public access to the Georgia Archives.
The announcement late Thursday quickly became a cause celebre for academics and family genealogists alike as thousands signed online petitions and Facebook pages through the weekend.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced Thursday the archives starting Nov. 1 will accept only limited public appointments to see Georgia’s important and historical records dating to at least 1733. Some of the institution’s 10 full-time employees also will lose their jobs, although just how many has not yet been determined.
The move, which comes in response to Gov. Nathan Deal’s request for state agencies to again trim spending, could make Georgia the only state in the nation without full-time, centrally located public access to historical government and state records, Kemp said.
No word yet on how many workers will have to be laid off.
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