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Anchorage's federal archives facility to close next month

Nathaniel Herz

The National Archives and Records Administration says it will close its downtown Anchorage facility next month.

The facility, which houses research materials and federal government records, will close June 20th, and its materials will be shipped to another federal facility in Seattle, according to a prepared statement released Monday.

The National Archives intends to digitize the Anchorage records once they arrive in Seattle, though the agency's chief operating officer has acknowledged that process will not be a "silver bullet," given that there are 12,000 cubic feet of materials.

The three members of Alaska's Congressional delegation issued a joint news release Friday to express their disappointment with the planned closure of the Anchorage branch, with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski saying that she still "does not understand what their plan is or what the rush is."

Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich also asked that the agency release a plan that details how the Anchorage records would be digitized once they arrive in Seattle.

Local historians and researchers have also criticized the National Archives' plan to move the records to Seattle, saying that the transfer will make their jobs more difficult.

Officials at the National Archives, which has been under budget pressure, say that the Anchorage branch costs more than $500,000 annually to keep open, even as it recorded just 535 visits last year. The decision to shutter the Anchorage facility was announced in March, along with plans to close or consolidate two Outside branches, which will save the agency an estimated $1.3 million annually.

National Archives spokesman Chris Isleib said in an email that the agency is still developing its digitization plans, and is asking local stakeholders which Anchorage records should get top priority.

The National Archives' chief operating officer, Jay Bosanko, emailed stakeholders Monday with a list of the Anchorage branch's most requested holdings, and asked for feedback on which ones should be digitized first.

The agency is leaving some of its records in the state, like those of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. It's also assessing the records from Alaska's territorial court, Isleib said.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com