Thursday, January 28, 2010

Courthouse Attic Records Update

Over the past year, staff has been working hard to salvage records from the courthouse attic. Many people ask, “Why is removing these records important?” In addition to initiatives by local genealogists and historians over the years to have them moved to secure location, Licking County is required by Ohio Law to maintain the records it creates and receives through daily business. Records in the attic are difficult to retrieve when employees respond to public records requests. The county is required by law to respond to records request in a reasonable amount of time. Also, records are difficult to find because they are not organized, and the environment records are housed in is causing them to deteriorate. If records are falling apart then they are not accessible to the public according to law.

 In January 2009, the department began inventorying and removing permanent records from the attic. Some records were covered in dust, animal feces, and insects. Others were heavily mold damaged and will require digitization and microfilming to save valuable information not located in other sources.

Left: Records before salvage project began.

Today, seven hundred boxes/volumes of permanent value have been removed from the attic and are housed at our department. Staff members are currently cleaning records using basic preservation methods such as HEPA filter vacuuming, spot cleaning, phase boxing, and encapsulation. Records requiring the attention of a conservator will be sent out for repair and/or digitized and microfilmed in-house.

Records that have been cleaned and organized thus far are listed in the “Records Available” link on our website. While only 30%-35% of records have been removed from the attic and a select number of records have been organized for access, we look forward to adding records to our site on a regular basis.