U.S. Senator Mark Begich is telling the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) not to rush its planned closure in Anchorage.
Historical records and documents are scheduled to move to Seattle in a matter of months.
Begich cites concerns about the timing of the move, especially because in 2015 Anchorage will celebrate the centennial of its founding, which makes the historical records crucial to ongoing and planned research efforts and grant projects. An estimated $500,000 in research grants have been awarded or are pending -- all related to the Anchorage centennial.
Begich also strongly suggests that NARA sell unused property in midtown Anchorage before moving the current facility, to digitize and make sure that researchers can access the records before moving them, and to consider moving them to another facility in Anchorage.
In a letter this week to David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Begich writes:
"Furthermore, NARA stated it plans to digitize the records after moving them to Seattle. However, the process of relocating the records to Seattle will likely take months, during which time researchers would be prevented from accessing these records. As a result, I urge NARA to ensure all records are digitized and available to researchers online before packing and moving them. Please provide information as to whether it would be possible to authorize a willing host to store federal and other records in Alaska.
" I would also like to point out NARA continues to own undeveloped property in midtown Anchorage. If NARA is seeking savings, it should consider selling this unutilized property as a means of seeking additional revenue prior to closing a facility which many depend on."
Begich also pointed out that NARA should fully understand the consequences of moving the records since Alaska is a young state and researchers rely on the records for economic development reports, land claims, settlement records and legal documents