State Historical Society of Iowa Situation

The message below was emailed to the Issues & Advocacy listserv by the IART Chair, Sarah Quigley on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.


Thank you for your responses and your willingness to lend your voices.  I have a bit of an update from Kathleen Roe, who spoke with several of our colleagues in Iowa last night.  She was able to get some more background information, including the following:

 First on the situation--there have been mounting concerns for some time.   The State Historical Society and the State Archives are part of the Department of Cultural Affairs.   For over five years, the position of state archivist was left unfilled after the retirement of the previous state archivist.  After considerable state-based advocacy, it was finally filled.  There has been reduction in staffing, and despite a consulting report commissioned by the Department, people remain uneasy about possible developments being discussed regarding digitization, funding reduction and possible consolidation of buildings.

At this time, there are no actionable items that would be helped by a letter from SAA or individual members.  However, a petition is being circulated by Tyler Priest, a professor at the University of Iowa.  Our colleagues feel that if we can get a large amount of signatures, especially from out of state, it will draw the attention of the director in a positive way.  In the meantime, we will stay in touch with them until such time as they have more specific needs we can assist with. 

From my experience in Georgia I can say that it’s important to let our colleagues in Iowa lead our efforts.  They’re grateful for our willingness to help and will be calling on us when it will be most effective.  Leaders in the state will be far more responsive to advocacy from us if it’s done in concert with local, targeted advocacy.  In the meantime, please sign the petition and I’ll be sure to keep the updates coming as I have them.

Email from University of Iowa Professor Tyler Priest:

Hi friends -- please consider signing my petition in support of restoring funding to the State Historical Society of Iowa libraries and archives.  This situation is dire.  Click on link below.  Please circulate and post to social media as widely as possible.  We need to swamp the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs with our collective voice of support.