May 22, 2022

New Report: The California State Archives Has “Limited Space for a Growing Collection”

The State of California’s Legislative Analysts Office has recently published a new report titled, “State Archives: Limited Space for a Growing Collection.”

From the Executive Summary:

State Archives Holds Record of Government. The State Archives—a part of the Secretary of State’s Office—preserves state government records of historical significance. Its large collection includes both physical and digital records. The collection grows annually.

Key Decision Point on Future Course of the Archives. In the coming few years the Legislature’s decisions will determine how the state retains records for decades to come. In setting state policy for the future of the State Archives, the Legislature could:

  • Increase Physical Capacity. This alternative would keep archival practices similar to the status quo. Increasing physical storage capacity would require the state to begin a planning process within the next few years.
  • Increase Digital Capacity. This alternative would require the Legislature to direct the State Archives to rely principally on digital records in the future. The State Archives would, as part of its record management process, direct departments to transmit records with archival value digitally. The digital alternative could limit or delay the need for a new building, but would involve changes in state processes and new information technology systems.
Executive Summary Figure - Archives Likely to Run Out of Space By Late 2020s

Source: California Legislative Analysts Office

Recommend Legislature Decide on Future of Archival Practices. We recommend the Legislature decide over the next few years on its preferred direction for future archival practices: increased physical capacity or increased digital capacity. After deciding which alternative to pursue, we recommend the Legislature direct the administration to produce a report that describes the costs and benefits of options for the selected alternative. We note that the longer the Legislature waits to make a decision on this policy, the more likely it seems the Archives will require additional building space for incoming physical records.


Source: California Legislative Analysts Office

Current Facility Will Run Out of Space in the Coming Years. Under current practices, the State Archives will eventually run out of space for storing physical records. In this report, we examine two scenarios for the growth of the State Archives’ collection: a fast‑growth and a slow‑growth scenario, as summarized in the figure below. We conclude the State Archives’ capacity will be exhausted at some point within the next 15 years.

Full Text Report

The report is available in HTML or PDF (20 pages) and contains five charts.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.