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Historic Documents Preservation Account

Advisory Committee

Van Block Facility

July 19, 2006

Minutes

 

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; Grants Manager Sheila Mosman, CSL; Joyce P. Mascena, Glastonbury Town Clerk; Catherine S. Nurmi, Sterling Town Clerk; Therese Pac, Bristol Town Clerk; Joseph Quartiero, Torrington Town Clerk; Lisa Valenti, North Branford Town Clerk

Members Absent: Building Consultant Mary Louise Jensen, CSL; Karen L. Marsden, Clinton Town Clerk; Sandra Hutton Russo, Middletown Town Clerk; Carla Pomprowicz, Hebron Town Clerk; Patti Strauss, Westport Town Clerk

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

 

I. The State Librarian called the meeting to order at 1:03 p.m.

II. The State Librarian welcomed everyone to the meeting. He introduced Joseph Quartiero as the new Litchfield County representative.

III. The minutes of the March 22nd meeting were approved as written.

IV. Fiscal Report: Richard Kingston reported on the fiscal status of the fund. Although monthly receipts have been down, interest rates have increased offsetting some of the lost revenue. Some towns are seeing an increase in filings, presumably because homeowners are switching from mortgages with variable rates to those with fixed rates. The program is healthy enough so it is possible to maintain current grant funding levels for the foreseeable future.

V. Old Business

A. Grants

1. FY2006 Grants: Final Project Evaluation/Expenditure Report forms are due on September 1, 2006 for projects completed this past June. Seventy-eight towns to date have not filed their reports. LeAnn Johnson recently sent emails to all town clerks reminding them that the reports are due soon. If the members want, she can provide each county representative with a list of towns as well.

2. FY2007 Grants

a. LeAnn distributed a list of all grants awarded in cycle 1 as well as a separate list of competitive grants awarded. The program awarded $1,094,670 in grants for cycle 1. There were 91 targeted grants and 9 competitive grants. The program was able to award more than the $300,000 set aside for competitive grants because the Public Records Administrator and the State Librarian factored into the total the amount of targeted funds those towns would have received has they applied for a targeted grant.

The Public Records Administrator and LeAnn commented on how well the review process went for the competitive grants. The Public Records Administrator stated that the independent reviewers from the State Historical Records Advisory Board were very thorough. Their recommendations, based on past experience with reviewing other grants as well as preparing their own applications, were invaluable for the grant staff and the Public Records Administrator.

b. The staff prepared a table showing all the towns, the yearly grant amounts received and the total amount from FY2002 through cycle 1 of FY2007. The program awarded $6,487,727 in grants during that period. The report was very helpful in that it identified which towns had not applied for a grant in a given year. The State Librarian commented on the wide variety of projects the program now funds as it has evolved over the years. Discussion followed on the reasons towns do not apply. The members recommended that the Field Archivist should visit those towns that do not regularly apply to assist them in overcoming some of these obstacles.

3. The Attorney Generalís office has reviewed the current forms and contract for the program and has requested significant revisions to the contract. Although the original documents were approved by that office five years ago, there is a new assistant attorney assigned to the State Library as well as an overall greater attention to contracts as a result of the Rowland scandals.

Sheila Mosman, Grants Manager for the State Library, is in the process of drafting the new documents. The application will now be separate from the certified resolution and the contract. The application process will now be in two steps. Town clerks will submit the application. Once the application has been approved, the State Library will send the town a contract which the chief executive officer will have to sign and return it along with the certified resolution to the State Library before it can issue a check to the town. The former procedure had the town signing a contract before the project was even approved.

One problem with new process may be that the Attorney Generalís office may have to sign off on each grant. The staff will try to develop a rolling approval process so that there are not a large number of documents that need to be signed and processed at one time. It will be more important than ever for town clerks to begin the application process as soon as possible so that they receive their funds in a timely manner to be able to have the full grant period to complete the work.

The staff will clarify when towns can legally begin work on the grant projects prior to receiving the check. The new documents will need to be ready in October for the new guidelines to be issued in January and February for the competitive and targeted grants, respectively. The staff will try to get on the program for the September town clerks conference to begin educating the clerks on the upcoming changes.

4. Given the soundness of the Historic Document Preservation Fund, the Public Records Administrator proposed keeping the targeted grant levels the same for FY2008. The grants would remain at $7,000; $12,000 and $17,000. The committee also agreed to set aside $400,000 for next yearís competitive grants.

5. There was no additional grants business.

B. Workshops:

1. The Public Records Administrator and the grant staff presented an hour long session at the Town Clerkís Conference in April. They discussed the grant program, focusing on areas of need such as the project deadlines and expenditure reports.

2. Kathy Makover reported that the Town Clerks workshop, held on June 8th at the Keeney Memorial Center in Old Wethersfield, was attended by 61 Town Clerks and Assistant Town Clerks as well as 20 others including the State Library staff. Lori Foley from NEDCC, Jane Cullinane from the State Library and Patricia Ford from the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) were the speakers. The reviews were very positive with most participants giving it a 4 or 5 on a scale of 5.

3. The committee discussed possible workshops for next year. Among the possible topics were a workshop on Archival Management, other aspects of preservation, and strategies on how to get more offices involved in records management. An Archival Management workshop would benefit potential competitive grantees as many Town Clerks are not quite certain what that encompasses beyond preserving historical records. The Public Records Administrator explained that the speakers could talk about organizing and managing historical records; identifying what constitutes an historical record; and how to work with consultants. The State Archivist, Mark Jones and Assistant State Archivist Bruce Stark could serve as speakers. If any member has any other ideas, they should contact Kathy Makover at the State Library.

4. The Connecticut State Library will be offering a cycle of NEDCCís preservation workshops over the next year. Although designed for Libraries, Town Clerks and staff from the local historical societies will be allowed to attend, space permitting. There will be a $20 registration for each one day course. Information will be provided to the Town Clerks website as it becomes available.

5. Preparations are underway between the Connecticut State Library and Connecticut History Online for a workshop on digitizing records. This may also be available to Town Clerks. More information will be forthcoming as it is made available.

C. Committee Membership: The committee has full representation. However, there is an issue of consistent attendance as well as responding to the meeting notices. The Public Records Administrator has tried to keep the meetings to three a year. Despite the committees best efforts there always seems to be a conflict with another Town Clerk meeting or class. The members suggested that the schedule be posted on the Town Clerks Associationís website so that planning groups would know when this bodyís meetings are.

A review of the past minutes reveals that the committee never set a formal attendance policy. The Public Records Administrator would like to set a policy of no more than three consecutive missed meetings which would constitute a whole year. Members are allowed to send a designee in their place from the same county. The committee agreed that the staff should develop a written statement on attendance for review and adoption at the next meeting in October. The new policy would go into effect in January 2007.

D. Town Clerk Issues

1. The Public Records Administrator has issued a new general letter 2006-1 which addresses the issue of electronic indices and microfilm back up of land records and maps. This was in response to complaints that in some towns, the indices were not being made available in paper in a timely manner, or that officials were questioning the need for microfilm backup. The letter is based upon the regulations for microfilm. The State Librarian noted that preservation of electronic data is a major issue facing all levels of government.

2. The staff is in the process of reviewing all general letters as part of the process to update the Public Records Administratorís chapter in the Town Clerkís manual. Once complete, the Public Records Administrator intends to post all the active letters on the website.

E. The staff distributed an executive summary report of State Library activities funded by the Historic Documents Preservation Fund. Preservation Librarian Jane Cullinane discussed the challenges of identifying the center point of each image from the 1934 statewide aerial survey for the GIS system. Assistant State Archivist Bruce Stark reported that the Church Records Project is proving more complicated than originally thought. State Archivist Mark Jones reported that Governor Rellís office has been very cooperative in releasing files from the past administration as quickly as possible. The State Archives has received more files from the Impeachment Committee that are filling in the gaps from the initial transfer. The committee attorneys have more time now that the General Assembly is out of session to review and transfer files. The college students hired as summer workers by the State Library have been extremely helpful. Unfortunately, the positions are only available May through September.

F. The next meeting is scheduled for October 11, 2006. If the Middletown facility is not available, the committee will meet at the Libraryís Van Block facility. Committee members should come prepared at the next meeting to set the schedule for 2007. There may need to be a special meeting in November or December to deal with the new contract and procedures before the new guidelines are issued.

G. There was no other old business.

VI. New Business

A. Peter Bartucca is working for the town of Farmington to survey and locate all of its historical records wherever they may be located such as the historical society, town library, bank vault, etc. Two of the earliest land records volumes are in the custody of the State Library. He is concerned about their condition and the Town Clerk would like to see them preserved. The State Library cannot afford to pay for preservation as there are other records in a more deteriorated state. The town clerk is willing to apply for a targeted grant to treat the records, digitally scan them and create a new high quality paper copy to replace the Photostatic copy it originally received back in the 1920s when the records were transferred. The State Library is agreeable to such an arrangement. Other towns maybe interested in having similar records treated and scanned.

B. The Public Records Administrator announced that Lizette Pelletier is no longer the programís Archival Consultant. She is now on staff part-time in the position of Public Records Archivist. She will continue to work on a number of aspects of the grant program.

VII. The Public Records Administrator adjourned the meeting at 2:50 p.m.

VIII. The next meeting is scheduled for October 11, 2006 at the Van Block Facility.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Lizette Pelletier, Recorder

July 19, 2006

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