Legislative budget cuts reduce archive capacity

by Nathan Whalen

As several University archives prepare to move to Andersen Library this winter, library space will be at a premium as the new caverns near capacity.
Original blueprints for the new West Bank library called for three storage caverns. But a cut in legislative funding and construction delays led to a 20 percent reduction in storage space, with room for only two caverns.
“We are going to be fairly tight upon arrival,” said David Klaassen, archivist at the Social Welfare History Archives.
So archivists are now sifting through their collections and eliminating unnecessary material. They are targeting duplicates and other material they haven’t gotten around to throwing out.
Because of the limited space, archivists won’t be able to introduce as much new material as they anticipated.
“We have to be very careful what we acquire so it’s useful for researchers,” said Elisabeth Kaplan, Charles Babbage Institute archivist.
Klaassen said he gives possible contributors guidelines for what they should send.
For example, the Manuscripts Division has six to eight collections awaiting archive space.
“I might have to turn some of these people down flat,” said Al Latrop, Manuscripts Division curator.
The library lost about $5 million in funding because legislators spread the money to other projects. However, construction of a third cavern is still a future possibility.
“Adding a third cavern is basically the only good answer,” Klaassen said.
Another option would be to use off-site archive space to store more infrequently used materials. Some archivists, like Latrop, already store information off site.
Using the building soon to be vacated by the Immigration History Research Center and the Manuscripts Division as supplemental storage space is also a possibility, although the University is currently considering selling the building.

Nathan Whalen covers construction and facilities and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3237.