Budget cuts hurting Arizona’s museums; institutions, parks falling into disrepair, forced to close

[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Even as Arizona prepares for its centennial in 2012, the state’s history is becoming less and less accessible to the average citizen.  Museums across Arizona are cutting hours, restricting programs, merging or closing altogether in the face of drastic budget problems.  The State Archives, which had been open only two half-days a week, is trying to figure out how to go to a four-day schedule with a diminished staff.

And state parks, many with historical significance, can’t turn enough money at the gate to maintain aging and sometimes-dangerous facilities and stay open.  The impact is significant: In a state where so many people are newcomers, the institutions that can help them connect to their new state’s history are harder to access.  “The more people know about their place, the more likely they are to be good citizens,” said Dan Shilling, an expert in civic tourism and a former executive director of the Arizona Humanities Council.  Museums play an important part in extending that knowledge, Shilling said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here]

Arizona Archives building: dedicated in January, closed in March

[Source: Bill Coates, Dolan Media Newswires] — As principal investigator for Arizona Historical Research, Vince Murray’s livelihood depends on access to Arizona state archives.  That access was severely curtailed March 4, when the new Polly Rosenbaum Arizona Archives and History Building was closed to the public, except by appointment.  And then for only two half-days a week.  

Blame budget cuts.  For Murray, it means a project that used to take two weeks now could take more than two months.  “On any typical project, there’s going to be 40 to 80 hours of research,” Murray said.  “Well, here, you’ve got — what? — eight hours that you’re allowed to do it in a week.”  Clients for his historical consulting firm include state agencies, he said.

The archives closure was perhaps the most notable cost-cutting move by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records department.  Other divisions are operating on reduced hours, said GladysAnn Wells, the agency’s director.  Until the cuts, the library department had $2 million in operating funds, expected to carry it until June 30, the fiscal year’s end.  In January, however, the Legislature reduced that by nearly $1.5 million, she said.  There was one place to cut, Wells said. “All we had left, really, was salaries,” she said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona State Archives reopens “by appointment only”

by-appointment-onlyThe Arizona State Archives will be open for research “by appointment only” every Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. and every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., except for emergencies.  Call 602-926-3720 between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday to make an appointment.  Archives staff will continue to accept research requests from patrons, but the response times will be much longer.  For more information, click here.

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.”