Budget cuts force Arizona State Library to close archives

[Source: Norman Oder, Library Journal] — In a decision that has drawn deep concern from the public, the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records has closed regular public access to the $38 million Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building, which opened last fall and was dedicated in mid-January, according to the Arizona Republic.  GladysAnn Wells, state librarian, said that the closure was the only solution to a nearly 75% cut in the agency’s remaining budget for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.  The reduction is $1.45 million out of $2 million, and archives staff have been cut from13 to 3.  The state research library and museum have cut hours, as well.

Those researchers who wish to access books, documents, and other resources will be able to make appointments to use the new building.  “I’m hoping something is going to happen so that we can re-open it,” Wells told the Phoenix New Times, which noted that the building had had about ten to 25 visitors a day.

“My husband and I were fortunate to have just finished the extensive research for our history of east-central Arizona before the archives closed,” wrote one commenter on the newspaper’s web site.  “Our book is richer and deeper because of the nuggets found there.”

“I can’t believe that it has been closed completely,” another complained.  “Cut down the hours, ask for volunteers, but to cut off history to the people of Arizona who are doing research and writing history is inexcusable.”

Heritage Watch (what has Arizona state government shuttered?)

three-item-thermometer2
It’s been two weeks since the thermometer in the middle and right have been up.  Jerome, McFarland, and Tonto state parks remain closed.  State Archives patrons and the general public expressed their displeasure to state legislators and archives staff so much so that the facility was reopened two days per week “by appointment only.”

Today we add one more thermometer (the one on the left) to let you know of the plight of 25 Arizona communities that were told by Arizona State Parks on February 2, 2009 to “stop immediately, effective February 1, 2009″ 38 Arizona Heritage Fund Historic Preservation Grant projects, despite the fact that contracts had been signed, materials and supplies were ordered and shipped, and construction work was still underway.  And oh by the way, you won’t get paid for the work that was completed; the State is taking the money back.

Since then, two projects, over 90% complete, were told they could finish their work (and be paid).  The other 36 have been “suspended” until further notice, and individuals, non-profit organizations, and local governments are scrambling to figure out how to pay for the work that everyone agreed to.  Apparently in Arizona, a hand shake and a signed contract mean nothing.

Click here to view a map of the affected projects and Arizona communities.