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AMADOR COUNTY ARCHIVES

Authority for Review

Grand Jury jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 925.

Background

Complaint received by the Grand Jury claimed "lack of accessibility of archives . . . apparent lack of inventory of archival materials . . . co-mingling of county archival materials and the [Archivist's] personal collection" and "conflict of interest" because the Oral History Fund is administered by the Amador Historical Society of which the Archivist is the treasurer.

Method of Review

Interview with Archivist
Interview with Museum Coordinator
Interview with General Services Administration (GSA) Director
Interview with County Supervisor
Interview with County Administrative Assistant
Interview with Amador County Historical Society President
Review of related documents including Archive budget and records, bank statement for "Friends of the Archives" account, and opinion of County Counsel
On-site visit

Findings

The Archivist is responsible for preserving and protecting the personal and business documents, photographs, maps and other written materials of historical value stored in the Archives. The focus is on the preservation of materials related to Amador County.

The Archivist is a county employee who is budgeted for eighteen hours of service each week. The total 1996-97 budget for the Archives is approximately $17,500. The Archivist's salary is included in the County Museum budget.

The Archivist maintains office hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays and the Archives are open to the public on Fridays. The Archivist sometimes schedules appointments for visits on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Archives are kept in an old wood framed county building next to the Municipal Court building. There is no provision for archival humidity and temperature control. The Archivist utilizes acid free envelopes, folders and boxes to aid in the preservation of the archival materials. There are no fire or intrusion detection devices.

Each new item received is logged onto an "accession sheet." This sheet contains the description of the item and is used for inventory and cataloging purposes. The accession sheet information is in the process of being transferred to computerized format. The Archivist had provided his own computer for this purpose.

The Archivist also maintains a card index file for most of the archival materials. Each card describes items, contributors, and dates of receipt. The cards specifically indicate which items are on loan as well as the name of the lender, although the Archives no longer accepts loans. The Archives has a loan agreement form but no donor agreement form.

Numerous personal archival materials are on loan to the Archives by the Archivist. Each of these items is clearly identified on the index cards.

Of the approximately five thousand items in the Archives, over half have been entered into the computer with the assistance of a part- time volunteer. The Archivist has had limited success in his attempts to recruit other volunteer assistance with the data entry. The GSA Director, who is responsible for the inventory of county property, does not have a list of the materials in the Archives at this time.

County owned archival materials are mixed with privately owned archival materials. All archival materials are inventoried and identified as to ownership on index cards. The Archivist also utilizes some of his personal furniture and equipment in the Archives. The GSA Director does not have a list of any of these items.

The Archivist actively seeks the acquisition of new archival materials. This is done through solicitation of donations, bartering, and purchases. The Archivist exchanges items unrelated to the county for items that are related to Amador County history.

A private bank account is maintained under the name of "Friends of the Archives." The funds in this account are made up of private donations and a memorial oral history fund. The Archivist maintains records of expenditures from the two parts of the account. Checks written on the account only require the signature of the Archivist. There is no connection between this account and the Amador County Historical Society.

Conclusions

The historical materials contained in the Archives are an irreplaceable asset of the County and must be preserved.

The Archivist must divide his limited hours between monitoring public access and maintaining the archival materials.

The Archivist attempts to accommodate requests for access during non-public hours.

Lack of funding has limited the development of the Archives, public access to documents, and staff size.

The present building utilized for the Archives is inadequate for the preservation and protection of archival materials.

The Archives are maintained in an orderly and acid free environment.

A donor agreement form is needed to replace the loan agreement form.

No County bank account, including the "Friends of the Archives" account, should be a single signature account.

Recommendations

Move the Archives to a location suitable for the preservation and maintenance of the archival materials.

Increase funding for staff to allow the Archives to be open to the public more than one day a week.

Include the Archivist's salary in the Archives Budget.

Provide the completed computerized inventory of archival materials to the GSA Director.

That the Archivist provide the GSA Director with a complete inventory of all personal equipment and furniture housed in the Archives.

That the Archivist consult with County Counsel to draft an appropriate donor agreement form.

That the "Friends of the Archives" bank account require the signature of both the Archivist and the GSA Director.

Response Required

The Grand Jury requests the Archivist and Board of Supervisors respond within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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