Thursday, December 20, 2007

Records storage is offered to 53 municipalities

December 19 , 2007

Free space provided at Monmouth County Archives and Record Center

FREEHOLD – Clerk M. Claire French has announced a new way for Monmouth County municipalities to protect their most valuable historical records. Free storage space at the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center, Manalapan, is being offered to all 53 municipalities.

At a recent government records workshop, Ms. French said each town would be provided with up to 10 cubic feet of space to store their valuable historical records. Monmouth County Archives and Records Center is located at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan.

The space is made possible by a PARIS grant from the state Division of Archives and Records Management. The grant funded a program called MR-MARC, which is an acronym for Municipal Records at the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center. The grant enabled the county records center to expand its storage capacity through compact shelving.

“We were so pleased with the extra space,” Ms. French stated. “We want to share it with Monmouth’s municipalities, which often do not have the facilities for archival storage. Historical records stored by the County will be secure and the Archives staff will be able to retrieve them for researchers in the Jane Clayton Research Room.”

The Public Archives and Records Infrastructure Support (PARIS) grants are funded by fees collected by the County Clerk for recording documents such as deed and mortgages, and are used to improve records management at the county and local level.

The Borough of Rumson has already indicated it wants to be the first municipal participant in MR-MARC. Tom Rogers, borough clerk/administrator said Rumson became actively engaged in a review of the borough’s municipal and historical records four years ago. With the hiring of a part-time records management consultant/archivist, Elsalyn Palmisano of Long Branch, Rumson was able to identify materials for destruction and those for microfilming.

“In conjunction with Rumson’s centennial this year, our most treasured historical records were rediscovered and many will be deposited in the County Archives, such as microfilm of our town, minute books, ordinance books, newsletters, and photographs,” Rogers said. “We are very pleased that the County will be offering us this service and to know that our materials are being stored in the facility with the proper environmental conditions.”

Rumson will be delivering records to the Archives in March 2008, when MR-MARC goes operational.

County Archivist Gary D. Saretzky said, “I’m hopeful that many of Monmouth’s other 52 municipalities will take advantage of MR-MARC, so that researchers who come to the Archives to use county government records will also have access to local government records such as town minutes and vital statistics books, which are very valuable to family historians.”

Where feasible, Saretzky plans to digitize the records so they can be backed up and used on-line on the County’s Open Public Records Search (OPRS) system, which is viewable online at The original records, he said, will remain the property of the municipalities, and DARM will approve each transfer agreement.

Karl J. Niederer, director of the State Division of Archives and Records Management, hailed Monmouth County’s initiative.

“County Clerk Claire French’s offer to house the permanent records of all 53 municipalities in Monmouth exemplifies the kind of strong commitment to intergovernmental shared services that is the hallmark of my division’s PARIS Grants Program,” Niederer said. “Gov. Corzine consistently stresses the importance of shared services between local governments in controlling rising property taxes, and today Monmouth County is taking a significant step toward realizing that goal. The Monmouth County Archives is already one of the finest institutions of its kind.”

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