Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vulnerable Archives

Hot on the heels of another round of archives thefts, Paul Grondahl has a report in the Albany (NY) Times-Union about the vulnerabilities of archival collections. "The reasons are many: the sheer volume; incomplete inventories; the cost of security; the value of the artifacts amid a growing demand from collectors; and the fact the documents are routinely retrieved by staffers for use by researchers in public reading rooms."

Grondahl's article includes comments by Richard Strassberg, a retired archivist who works with the Society of American Archivists to improve security at archival repositories. Grondahl says Strassberg "advocates spending more on security and tougher sentences for the thieves," both of which are entirely sensible and utterly necessary.

Kathleen Roe, New York's director of archives and records management operations, told Grondahl that various new security measures are being considered at the State Archives in the wake of the Lorello thefts, including mandatory bag checks. As I've noted here before, a panel is currently conducting a top-to-bottom review of the security procedures at the State Archives and Library.

Grondahl includes comments from archivists and special collections heads at local institutions including RPI, Union and Skidmore.

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