County records, historic archives get a new home

-A A +A
By Kirsten Laskey

County records and historic archives will have a home after the Los Alamos County Council approved an archive and county records facility as add-alternatives to the municipal building design-build project.
Council approved the facility during their regular meeting Tuesday night. The county records center will be 6,500 square feet while the historic archives are planned to cover 7,500 square feet. The approximate cost for the add alternates is $2.7 million.
During the council meeting, Capital Projects and Facilities Department Director Anne Laurent said after the former municipal building was demolished, county records were scattered. They were stored at the Pajarito Cliffs site, as well as in various departments.
Archives were located in Fuller Lodge, which Laurent said is not an ideal place.
Having the county records and historic archives at the municipal building is preferred because the municipal building’s site, which is off Central Avenue, is close to the Los Alamos History Museum as well as major county
agencies. It also offers synergy and other sites such as the Pajarito Cliffs Site could be expensive.
“Ultimately, the location was pretty good,” Dan Erickson, Capital Projects Division manager, said, “but the cost savings associated with the economy of scale made it the obvious choice.”  
The goal is to relocate the archives and records into a facility that can protect them.
Los Alamos History Museum Director Hedy Dunn said, “I would say we (the Los Alamos Historical Society) are relieved and grateful and hope that are no more impediments in the road ahead.”
Dunn said she has waited since 1988 for an archival facility to come into fruition.
The Fuller Lodge location is problematic to both the archives and the building, she said.  There is not a lot of space to move around; Dunn said the space for archives is “stuffed to its limits.” Furthermore, there were concerns that the archives were exceeding floor load limitations. Dunn said the building does not provide security to the archives nor it is climate controlled.
Record Administrator Barb Ricci said, “We’re very pleased with the outcome; we feel we can now move ahead with the dedicated records center that will allow us to protect and secure the information assets of the county for years to come.”
Councilor Robert Gibson wondered if county administration was pursuing a paperless records system.
Acting County Administrator Randy Autio said the way municipalities handled records was changing and he believed records would be kept electronically in the future. However, Autio saw a long transition period to get an electronic system.
Laurent said managing electronic media is more intense than paper. She cited security reasons such as ensuring documents couldn’t be manipulated as one reason.
She added it does not matter what system is used, “we still need the space.”