Thursday, November 08, 2007

NARA IG Investigating Major Security Breaches at Reagan Library

The LATimes reports that National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld has opened an investigation into allegations that a former employee stole artifacts from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Brachfeld told the paper that his efforts have been stymied by a record-keeping failure, what he called a "near universal security breakdown."

A former archivist at the Reagan Library was reportedly fired about six months ago for stealing items from the collections; an audit of the collections by the IG's office was begun at that time, and revealed that "the library was unable to properly account for more than 80,000 artifacts out of its collection of some 100,000 such items, and 'may have experienced loss or pilferage the scope of which will likely never be known.'" The report blamed management lapses and poor storage practices, which included "artworks stacked on top of one another, and sculptures and vases unwrapped and lying on their sides on open shelves - in an area prone to earthquakes."

Once again, it's clear that at least some of the problems here are caused by insufficient funding and staffing - the fact that volunteers had to be called in to help catalog artifacts after the problem emerged should be a major clue that more resources should be allocated to these facilities.

More on this as it comes in. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it.

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