Historic Documents Preservation Account Advisory Committee

Van Block Facility

March 21, 2007





Members Present:        State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, CSL: Public Records Administrator Eunice DiBella, CSL; Administrative Services Director Richard Kingston, CSL; Preservation Librarian Jane Cullinane, CSL; State Archivist Mark H. Jones, CSL; Building Consultant Mary Louise Jensen, CSL; Joyce P. Mascena, Glastonbury Town Clerk; Catherine S. Nurmi, Sterling Town Clerk; Therese Pac, Bristol Town Clerk; Sandra Russo, Middletown Town Clerk; Lisa Valenti, North Branford Town Clerk; Carla Pomprowicz, Hebron Town Clerk; Patti Strauss, Westport Town Clerk


Members Absent:         Karen L. Marsden, Clinton Town Clerk; Grants Manager Sheila Mosman, CSL; Joseph Quartiero, Torrington Town Clerk


Others Present:             LeAnn Power, CSL; Bruce Stark, CSL, Lizette Pelletier, CSL; Kathryn Makover, CSL



I.              The State Librarian called the meeting to order at 1:06 p.m.

II.           The minutes of the October 11th meeting were approved as written.  Sandra Russo and Cathy Nurmi abstained as they did not attend that meeting.

III.         Fiscal Report: Richard Kingston reported on the fiscal status of the fund.  Revenues are about 10% below what they were for the same period last year.  He stated that he hoped that this was just a seasonal drop and the numbers will rebound over the next few months.  The Town Clerks report a wide variety of filing activity among the towns.  They believe that they are returning to a more normal pattern after the big boom of the last few years and then the fall off. 

Rich reported that there is a sufficient balance in the fund, despite the downturn. No town is chronically behind in its monthly filings.  In addition, not every town applies each year.  Those remaining funds are applied toward the competitive grants.

Patty Strauss made a brief legislative report on pending bills regarding marginal notations and electronic filing.  These bills remain in committee.  April 13th is the cutoff for committee approval to move forward.    The State Library testified on both bills.

IV.        Old Business

A.           Grants

                                                                                    1.            FY2007 Grants:

a.              LeAnn distributed the list of 48 towns who received grants worth $381,000 for cycle 2.  She also included a list of those towns that did not apply this year.  The committee discussed reasons why some towns do not apply.  Kathy Makover is making site visits to encourage towns who do not regularly apply to do so.  The grant staff cannot force towns to apply.  The Town Clerks will take the list back to the county meetings and try to encourage these towns to apply.

b.            Kathy visited East Hartford to inspect the records damaged by water earlier.  The good condition of the vitals books after freeze drying does not warrant the expense of conservation.  The Town Clerk has decided to apply for a grant to microfilm them.  The town has promised to fix the problem which caused the original water damage sometime this spring. Sandra Russo suggested that the town might be eligible for a Block Grant from the state to help with the repairs.  She will speak to the Town Clerk of East Hartford about this.

                                                                                    2.            FY2008 Grants: LeAnn has received 21 targeted grant applications to date.  Nine competitive grants totaling $399,823 are currently under review.

                                                                                    3.            Grant Contract Revisions: The committee reviewed the new grant approval procedures and the contract.  Item 18 on the grant contract concerning campaign contributions does not apply to this grant program.  It is part of the standard state contract and must be included.  The grant contract for the targeted grants includes a project check off list while the competitive grant will use the project summary from the application. The Attorney General’s office will be reviewing the applications, but only for dates and signatures.

LeAnn reminded the Town Clerks that applicants must use the wording provided in the sample resolution.  Towns that failed to do so will likely have approval of their application held up by Sheila Mosman, who will be reviewing the grant contracts and resolutions.

The State Librarian reminded the Town Clerks that, even if all the paperwork is completed ahead of time, work cannot start on project prior to July 1st.  Rich Kingston stated that payments will be processed after the start of the fiscal year, once the final paper work is completed.  The fiscal office will not hold all payments for a single batch as in the past.  Therefore, towns may be receiving checks at different times.

                                                                                    4.            There was no additional grants business.

B.           Workshops & Training: 

                                                                                    1.            FY2007 workshop:  The next Town Clerk’s workshop will be held on June 7th at the Keeney Center.  Lori Foley will be presenting a full day session on Emergency Preparedness including dPlan™. The staff decided to offer this workshop instead of the Archival Management workshop that was previously scheduled because NEDCC offered the workshop at a much reduced price due to a grant it received from IMLS.  The grant ends in June.  NEDCC will be offering a similar session for public librarians through the State Library’s Division for Library Development on another date.  Any town clerk unable to attend the grant program workshop should consider attending this session if space is made available.

                                                                                    2.            The Public Records Administrator, the grant staff, Preservation Librarian and the State Archivist presented at the Town Clerks School in December at the ITBD center in New Britain.  Therese Pac reported that they received good reviews from those attending.  The Town Clerk’s appreciate that the staff keeps the presentations timely and up to date.

                                                                                    3.            The grant staff held grant training sessions on January 11 & 18 at the Van Block facility.  This year’s sessions included both targeted and competitive grants due to the program changes.  Sixty-six people attended including assistant clerks and town grants persons.

C.           State Library Reports.

                                                                                    1.            The staff distributed a summary of State Library preservation activities funded through the program in the meeting packet.

                                                                                    2.            The State Archivist reported on a recent acquisition using Historic Documents Preservation Funds that was not included in the summary.  This week he was able to stop the auction of a 1791 Connecticut House Roll listing the attendance during that session and negotiate a reasonable price with the seller. State records are appearing more frequently on eBay and other auction sites.  The State Archivist tries to monitor such items.  When he identifies records, the State Archivist contacts the sellers to try to return these items to state custody.

The State Librarian, Public Records Administrator and he will be meeting to discuss this growing issue of records that were not necessarily stolen.  In the case of the 1791 roll, it may have been removed by workers during renovations to the State Capitol building in the early 1900s. The professional archivists groups made an attempt to deal with it but their effort has stalled.  The State Archivists have had more luck on an individual basis.  A law preventing the sale of public records would be helpful but could drive the documents underground.  At least now, the states have an opportunity to identify and attempt to buy back.  There are statutory limits on existing replevin laws and enforcement is not a priority for state Attorneys General or federal States Attorneys.

                                                                                    3.            Preservation Librarian Jane Cullinane demonstrated the on-line aerial photographs available on the CSL digital collections website.  Photographs from the WPA House Survey are also available.  State Archivist Mark Jones is working on a project to post images from the Merritt Parkway as part of its 75th anniversary this year.

D.           Meeting Schedule: The staff reminded every one that remaining meetings for 2007 are July 11 and October 10.  These are all Wednesdays.  All meetings will be at Van Block unless otherwise notified.

E.            There was no other old business.

V.           New Business

A.           Eligible/Ineligible Grant Expenditure:

                                                                                    1.            Now that a significant number of towns have completed their preservation surveys, many towns are asking when funding for new HVAC systems will be allowed as part of the grants.  Some town clerks feel that there is no sense to move forward with any other studies or activities if the money will not be available for addressing environmental issues. 

The committee agreed that there needed to be clearly defined criteria for this category.  Among the criteria suggested was the prerequisite of an engineering study to determine the exact nature of the problem and possible solutions such as installing an HVAC system may or may not be the appropriate solution to an environmental issue.  In addition, a town must have monitoring data.  Carla Pomprowicz also recommended a required match of town funds since it is the town’s responsibility to care for its records.  Jane Cullinane also spoke about a commitment to maintain and service the system once installed.  The staff will begin preparing draft criteria so that the category is available under the targeted grants in FY2009.

                                                                                    2.            The grant staff asked the committee to comment on funding projects to preserve non-government records.  The town of Hebron has in its vault the records of the Gilead Church, dating from 1748 to 1961.  The collection includes vital records, minutes, treasurer’s reports, membership lists, by-laws and other significant records of the church and its associate organizations.  The church retains ownership of the records.  The town clerk would like to apply for a targeted grant to preserve the records.

While the committee felt that these were significant historical records, unless the church was willing to transfer ownership to the town, grant money should not be used to preserve the collection.  The town could use its local funds either from the dollar fund or the farm preservation fund.  The State Librarian and the Public Records Administrator would be willing to fund a microfilming or imaging project with microfilm back up as an alternative, if the Mormons had not already done so.  A copy of the microfilm would also have to be deposited with the State Library. The State Archivist offered to see if the Mormons had already microfilmed the records. The State Library would also be willing to accept the records as a donation and preserve them.

Carla Pomprowicz stated that she was going to put the project on hold until she had an estimate on the preservation costs.  She would then discuss the alternatives presented with the church with the hope that they either decide to fund the project themselves or turn over custody to the town.

B.           Karen Marsden, Clinton Town Clerk, submitted a letter of resignation from the committee.  The committee will need to select a new representative from Middlesex County.  Although Middletown is in Middlesex County, Sandra Russo is willing to continue as the Town Clerk’s Association representative, if the new president wants her to do so.  Karen recommended Sarah Becker from Old Saybrook and Deb Denette from East Haddam as possible candidates.  The committee had no additional suggestions.  LeAnn will contact the two clerks to see if one of them is interested in serving as a member.

VI.        The State Librarian adjourned the meeting at 2:55 p.m.

VII.      The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at the Van Block Facility.

Respectfully submitted,




Lizette Pelletier, Recorder

March 21, 2007