Archivists, genealoigists and researchers will be able to continue to enjoy walk-in access to the Georgia Archives in Morrow if legislation to put the archives in the state’s university system is passed into law. The state House of Representatives has passed the bill and it is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
ATLANTA The Georgia Archives is just a flick of the pen away from being part of the University System of Georgia.
The state Senate unanimously approved House Bill 287 this week. The legislation authorizes the transfer of the Morrow-based archives from Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office to the university system, which state officials announced was their intention last fall.
“This means the bill is now going to the governor [Nathan Deal] for his signature and the transfer will be in effect on 1 July 2013,” said Dianne Cannestra, president of the Friends of the Georgia Archives, told supporters via the group’s website.
News that the transfer plan had successfully navigated the General Assembly was cheered by archives supporters across the Internet. They had pinned their hopes for keeping the facility open on this plan and its future would have been in doubt if the legislation hadn’t passed.
“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, the Georgia Archives is on its way to being wed to the University System of Georgia,” archives supporter Vivian Price Saffold wrote on the GeorgiaArchivesMatters.org website.
Attention now turns to the issue of funding with the Senate expected to add $300,000 to the $4.6 million appropriation the House of Representatives made for the archives in this year’s state budget. Cannestra said a conference committee made up of members of both chambers will have to work out the difference and agree to a final funding total by the end of the legislative term next week.
“While it is very good news that the Senate chose to increase the funding for the Georgia Archives, this final weekend before the session ends will be most important in letting key leaders know how important this additional funding is,” she said.
The six-member committee will be made up of state Reps. Terry England (R-Auburn), Jan Jones (R-Milton) and Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire), Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer (R-Duluth) and Sens. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) and Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone).
State officials hope to use work study students from neighboring Clayton State University to help staff the archives and extend its hours. Budget cuts have taken their toll on the facility’s operations in recent years, with the Secretary of State’s office having to continually cut days of operation to meet budget reduction mandates.
It got to the point where Kemp decided to close the archives entirely to walk-in traffic and reduce staff to three employees, but that prompted a public outcry and the secretary worked with Deal to set up the transfer to the university system.
Clayton State President Tim Hynes is leading the university system’s archives transfer team.