16 October 2012

Do You Have An Appointment?

     Yesterday, Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, announced the appointment schedule for the Georgia Archives. You can see the full schedule in here.  Based on this schedule, it breaks down monthly to 78 appointments in the Original Documents, 120 in Microfilm, and 90 in Open Records. So when you want to visit the archives you will be limited to one area that you must choose in advance.  AND, you will have to fit your research into their schedule. The first week of the month is Original Records only. The second week of the month is Microfilm, Open Records, and 15 Original Records appointments.

     I can just see what fun this is going to be for the poor archivist and volunteers to keep different appointment groups separated. Stay in your area! No books for you - that's not what you signed up for! Just imagine: you are browsing a book and come across a reference to your ancestor. You realize that the record collection mentioned is available in full on microfilm. You can't just walk over 100 feet and look at it, you have to make another appointment and come back another day!

     Let's look at the appointments in more detail. The archive will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with different appointment schedules during the first two weeks of the month. The Archive will be closed the third and fourth weeks of each month.

     Original Documents are the most limited, appointment wise. These records will take the most work by archivists, so it's a bit understandable. There are 7 appointments in an appointment block each day during the first week, with 3 blocks a day. So that means that there will only be 7 visitors in the building at any given time. The second week there is one appointment block with 5 appointments each day. For these appointments, you will be asked to specify your record requests in advance, so that they can be pulled before your arrival. Hope you don't need a second pull....

     Next, Microfilm. There are 10 appointments in an appointment block each day during the second week, with 4 blocks a day. There are 10 electronic microfilm readers (if all are in working order) that have computer and printer connections. There are at least another 10 of the old-fashioned hand cranked kind. I wish they would fill all (or at least most) of the machines and allow for more visitors.

     Finally, Open Records. I assume this area consists of both the book shelves and the computer area.  This area has 10 appointments in an appointment block each day during the second week, with 3 blocks a day.  That's it, 10 at a time? There are more than 10 computers and thousands of books. I think we could at least bump that up to 20 appointments.

* * * * *

     I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for Thursday, Nov 8th. I contacted Christopher Davidson at cdavidson@sos.ga.gov and am now confirmed for a 12:30 - 2:30 pm appointment for Microfilm.  I've asked if I could bring a second person to research with who would share my microfilm reader, but have not yet gotten a response to that. You can also call 678-364-3714 to schedule an appointment, but folks on Facebook report that they were told appointments weren't yet available when they called.

     I'm going to really prepare in advance for my appointment.  I'm going to utilize the online Microfilm Index to look up my microfilm rolls in advance.  I will also arrive at least 15 minutes early, just in case. Considering that I have to travel through Atlanta traffic to get there, I might plan to be there even earlier.  I'd hate to get stuck in traffic for half of my appointment! I might even try and combine my visit with one to the National Archives next door. It's a little awkward with a middle-of-the-day appointment, but maybe.

     So if you want to visit the Georgia Archives any time soon I would make an appointment NOW and prepare as much as possible before your visit. Good Luck!

     UPDATE: It is being reported on Facebook that individuals are restricted to one appointment a month.


Amanda said...

That is pretty tight. On the bright side, at least one of the open days is a weekend day. As an (albeit small) archives manager, I can understand the limits on the microfilm machines. Everyone wants to use the better ones, definitely ones from which you can print. They probably want to keep most of the hand-cranks just as backups. If they did open up appointments for those, they would need to be very specific about their limitations so users won't be angry.

Catherine Pendleton said...

I'm glad the Georgia archives will stay open but this scheduling sounds complicated. Now that I've moved back to south Georgia, it will entail a 3.5 hour drive just to get there for a 2-hour appointment. I'd have to find something else to do to justify my trip (like going to the National Archives as well as you plan to do).


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