Threats to our access to records have taken many forms but particularly vexing in recent years have been those threats arising out of the current fiscal crisis. From every corner of the country we have seen library and archive budgets slashed, hours curtailed, and severe staff reductions.
The very survival of some of our best resources has been threatened. In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, then Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July 2009 which abolished the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. There was a proposal that surfaced in the summer of 2009 that would have dismantled the Library of Michigan, scattered the materials gathered over 180 years occupying 27 miles of shelving and turned the building into an interactive museum and a magnet school.
Within the genealogical community, the Library of Michigan has long been recognized as one of the premier state libraries in the country. Visitors come from all across the country to research at the Library of Michigan.
In collaboration with our colleagues with the Michigan Genealogical Council, the member organizations of the Records Preservation and Access Committee have sought to work with Michigan decision-makers seeking to address this fiscal challenge and preserve the treasure represented by the Library of Michigan collections. Some of those efforts have been reflected in multiple entries in this RPAC Blog over the last three years and in the web pages of the MGC at www.mimgc.org . We have strongly encouraged Michigan officials to promote Genealogical Tourism using these resources to as a magnet to attract visitors.
As reorganized, the Library of Michigan fell under the stewardship of the Michigan Department of Education. The Department of Natural Resources oversees the State Archives housed in the same building as the LOM and is responsible for the promotion of tourism in the state.
We commend the efforts of representatives of both state departments in reaching the arrangements announced above leading to the move of some of the LOM collections to the Michigan Archives where they will continue to be made available to the public.