As reported in this newsletter several weeks ago, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) proposed to reduce the number of hours the agency's research facilities are open to the public. More than 11,000 genealogists "electronically signed" a petition asking for reconsideration. That petition was delivered on September 9. Click here for details. The Office of Management and Budget apparently received a final listing of 530 letters and 2 signed petitions, including ours.
The petition apparently had an effect although not as much as we had hoped. The National Archives is still reducing its weekly hours, but the agency will be open longer hours once a month. NARA also cut the times of the document retrievals. Now it will be 10 and 11 AM and 1:30 and 2:30 PM.
In short, the National Archives is reducing its services significantly.
Here is the full announcement:
From: "NOTICE" <NOTICE@nara.gov>
Date: September 26, 2006 10:25:39 AM EDT
Subject: NARA Notice 2006-278, Final Rule on Research Room Hours Change
September 26, 2006
I announced in July NARA's plan to reduce the research room hours in the National Archives Building and the National Archives at College Park, effective October 2. This measure was taken in response to the need to reduce operating expenses significantly in order to have sufficient funds to fulfill our mandate throughout the fiscal year. As detailed in NARA Notice 2006-229, the rule would change our hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The interim final rule was published on July 25, 2006, and was open for 45 days for public comment. A well-attended public hearing was held on August 3. We received over 530 comments on the rule.
In response to strong public comment, we have modified the schedule to provide extended research room hours once a month on Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday. The new hours are: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a month, we will have extended hours to accommodate researchers who seek evening and Saturday hours. The monthly extended hours are: Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., and Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The first extended hours will be held October 19 through 21.
In addition to the forthcoming publication of the final rule on September 27, we have posted signs in the research rooms in Washington and College Park and are sending a message to many of our constituent organizations notifying them of the new hours. We also will have the new hours posted on www.archives.gov/research/, including the specific dates for extended hours in FY 2007.
As a researcher myself and a past user of National Archives services, plainly I am troubled by the need to institute these reduced hours. I can only assure you, however, that I will make every effort in the months ahead to restore NARA to a financial situation that will allow us to resume our existing hours.
Archivist of the United States