Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

Still Struggling, Still Preserving: Update on the District of Columbia’s Archives and Public Records Office

By Matthew B. Gilmore

from: https://march.rutgers.edu/2016/10/still-struggling-still-preserving-update-on-the-district-of-columbias-archives-and-public-records-office/

Since this post from July 2015, there has been progress at the DC Archives.

Rebecca Katz was hired as the new Public Records Office administrator in September 2015. Katz has her J.D. from Harvard Law and M.S.L.S. from Catholic University and has worked as policy analyst and as Assistant General Counsel for the Council of the District of Columbia, prior to becoming PRO administrator. Here is a link to the website. You can see the OPR blog here: https://dcarchivesopr.wordpress.com/ The office also now has at Twitter account: @DCArchivesOPR

Some rules have been updated:

You may now use your electronics (cell phone, tablet, laptop) while doing research at the DC Archives, subject to the following restrictions:

  • We have no outlets available for charging your devices. Make sure that your device is fully charged before coming to do research.
  • If you must speak on the phone, we ask you to go to the lobby or outside so that you do not bother other researchers.
  • No flash photography.
  • You may not bring a scanner.
  • You are responsible for ensuring your own compliance with copyright restrictions.

An accession register is now online.

Progress on a new facility moves forward. Hartman-Cox and EYP, were chosen to develop requirements for the design of the new archival facility project.

Their extensive programming analysis was delivered in February 2016.

In summary:

The Office of Public Records (OPR) is a division under the District of Columbia’s Office of the Secretary. OPR currently operates an Archives and Records Center facility at Naylor Court. This facility is supplemented by other city and Federal facilities to store public records. The Naylor Court facility has reached its storage capacity and its physical and mechanical deficiencies make it inadequate for the long-term preservation of the city’s archival records.

  • Create a state-of-the-art archival facility.
  • Provide mission-critical services to all DC agencies including records management, education, and resource sharing.
  • Optimize facility and space for centralized records storage, offices, services, and public access.
  • Maintain a cost-effective, secure, environmentally controlled central storage facility.
  • Optimize temperature and humidity performance and control; eliminate air-infiltration issues.
  • Achieve LEED Gold Certification.

To achieve these goals, HC/EYP facilitated the programming process with DGS and OPR and:

  • Reviewed all available background information.
  • Evaluated the City’s current holdings and estimated records volumes where necessary.
  • Explored different storage systems and density options to establish the required amount of records storage space.
  • Developed a comprehensive space program capturing
  • Quantitative and qualitative functional requirements.
  • A detailed and multidisciplinary review of relevant technical considerations.
  • Analyzed the feasibility of various co-location scenarios for sharing services between the DC Archives and the DC Public Library (DCPL).
  • Conducted a preliminary evaluation of potential sites to determine their suitability for further study.
  • Prepared cost estimates to assist the City’s leadership with the budgeting and decision-making process.

Three potential locations were identified:

  1. Thurgood Marshall Elementary School 3100 Fort Lincoln Drive NE, Washington, DC 20018
  2. Fletcher Johnson Middle School 4650 Benning Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019
  3. The Penn Center 1709 3rd St NE, Washington, DC 20002

As a follow-up the DC Department of General Services (DGS) and Office of Public Records requested a study for feasibility of program accommodation at the proposed Penn Center site; this has been completed by Hartman-Cox and EYP but not released. Penn Center is in high demand, suggested as a homeless shelter and as swing space/storage for Martin Luther King Library renovation.

Extensive discussion took place of an alternative location, the current W Street Trash Transfer Station at 1220 W St. NE proposed by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson– $29 million was proposed by the Council in new capital funding towards a new DC Archives facility. The W Street site is included in the District of Columbia budget for FY 2017. Also in the budget is an increase of $234,739 and 2.0 FTEs (full time equivalent) personnel. One of the FTEs will support the transition of archived data to the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO).

*Former Public Records Officer Clarence Davis passed away June 15, 2016.

[Note: Mark Seagraves, NBC 4 reported on the Archives November 2015: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Condition-of-DC-Archives-Building-Poses-Threat-To-Historic-Treasures_Washington-DC-347260782.html

 


Matthew Gilmore is the Editor at H-DC, a website which covers public humanities news and events in the District of Columbia. A link to Matthew’s webpage can be found here.

Sources: DC Budget; Hartman-Cox/EYP reports

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