Growing Trend For Governments For Reducing Funding for Archives

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

With government budgets being squeezed due to the worldwide fiscal situation we are seeing governments reduce funding for national archives and in some instances merge their archives with other government agencies.  The latest is the proposal in Ireland to merge the National Archives of Ireland with the National Library of Ireland.  Such a merger would negatively effect accountability for public records.  Needless to say the National Archives of  Ireland is opposed to this merger. Evidently there has NOT been a cost benefit analysis--just that a former minister thought this would save money. There are several interesting newspaper articles and editorials regarding this government proposal. To read more about this see:

[While we may not think many Jewish ancestors came from Ireland, remember some may have stopped in Ireland on their route to Canada or the United States--let alone the thousands of Jews who lived in Ireland since 1700. Therefore, there are records of interest for us in the National Archives of  Ireland]

In 2010 the National Library and National Archives in New Zealand were merged into the Department of Internal Affairs which raised concerns about the Chief Archivist retaining his independence.

The (USA) National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration, is facing a $2 million reduction in budget in the Administration's FY13 appropriations budget request. The request is $3 million where the current
level is $5 million. This funding assists local/state archives with projects.

The Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) is currently experiencing draconian budget cuts--and already 20 percent (over 400) staff persons have been laid off, and services are being reduced--including hours of operation. These cuts negatively effect the ability of the LAC to provide a high level of  service to researchers and will affect the public's ability to access records housed at LAC. Small and medium-sized archives throughout the country have been dependent upon funding administered through LAC.  The
elimination of this funding puts their ability to preserve their collections at risk.The Interlibrary loan program where archives  throughout the country may borrow materials from the National Archives in Ottawa is scheduled to cease in February 2013.

It is likely that we will see more funding cuts proposed in more countries. Archives are the way to preserve the history of a country. With archives access decimation, it deprives future generations from being able to
document what actually occurred and preserve their heritage.  As genealogists we need to be concerned about this worldwide trend.  If you are aware of other such cutbacks please let us know.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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