County Archives needs Expansion

Scott Broden, Daily News Journal, March 29, 2016

Rutherford County archivist John Lodl shows how they store some of their records in smaller acid-free boxes to use all the space on the shelves because the archives is running out of space. (HELEN COMER/DNJ)

Rutherford County archivist John Lodl shows how they store some of their records in smaller acid-free boxes to use all the space on the shelves because the archives is running out of space.

MURFREESBORO — The Rutherford County Archives will run out of document storage space in two years and needs an expansion to keep up with the growth, officials said. County archivist John Lodl expects a 3,000square-foot expansion onto the back of his department’s 10,000-square-foot building at 435 Rice St. in the downtown area of Murfreesboro to cost $300,000 to $400,000.

“This building was designed with two additions in mind, and we have the space for those additions,” said Lodl, noting that another longer-term project could add an additional 5,000 square feet to the Archives Building. “Every year we take in more records because of the growth of the county. That’s our job. We only take permanent records.”

Lodl and Mayor Ernest Burgess briefed the County Commission Property Management Committee Thursday about expanding the Archives Building. The goal is having space ready, in particular, to accept older court records from the existing Judicial Building to prevent the documents from taking up space at the future Judicial Center, which is scheduled to open in June 2018 on Lytle Street in the downtown area.

The nearly 10-year-old County Archives Building includes a 5,000-square-foot storage room that accepts government and court documents that are required by state law to be kept as paper records. These include records of 

marriages, wills and other legal documents dating back to 1804, Lodl said.

“That’s what this building was designed for, to take those records and free up space in the current offices,” s aid Lodl, who started his job the day the County Archives building opened in August 2006. “We could fill up in two years. It’s done what it was built to do.”

The future 200,000-square-foot Judicial Center will have six stories and start out with 12 courtrooms in serving a county that reached a U.S. Census estimated population of 298,612 in July. The $73.9 million Judicial Center project also will include an unfinished floor to add four more courtrooms for a c ounty projected to reach a population of 489,827 by 2035, according to the Tennessee Data Center,which is part of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business & Economic Research at the Knoxville campus.

During the committee meeting, Commissioner Shawn Kaplan questioned why more records cannot be stored in digital form, such as the way his employer, Legacy Mutual Mortgage, scans all loan documents.

After explaining how state law requires paper records from the sheriff’s o ffice and most cases from all courts in Rutherford County, Lodl said the Rutherford County Records Commission and Heather Dawbarn, the county register of deeds, are overseeing efforts to scan other records electronically.

Lodl also noted how a digital, mobile storage system installed in 2012 at the County Archives Building allowed more records to be stored by reducing the number of aisles between the movable rows of metal shelves holding the documents. “We’ll be able to lessen the number of physical records in the building, and thereby free up space in the various offices,” said Lodl, whose department also follows state law in copying 90 percent of the records on microfilm, with the Tennessee State Library and Archives getting them as well. “It’s the preservation standard for backing up historic records.”

Lodl told the committee he’ll get back to them about specific expansion costs after talking to Hastings Architecture Associates LLC, the firm that d esigned the County Archives Building. Once the proposed 3,000-squarefoot expansion is completed for records, Lodl expects that to serve the county’s needs for another 20 years.

“They are the records for the citizens of this county,” said Lodl, adding that his building has daily visitors researching history and genealogy documents. “They are generated by the county, but the citizens have every right to access these records.”

Contact Scott Broden at 615-2785158. Follow him on Twitter @Scott-Broden.

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