Saturday, September 19, 2015

What is Going on at the Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield?

According to this report in the Illinois Times, the funding for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project (the website is down) has dried up and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is cutting staff and ending walk-in visits in favor of scheduled appointments. 

 Here is a taste of the Bruce Rushton's article:

On orders from the governor’s office, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency that sponsors the project has refused to renew a contract with the University of Illinois Springfield that last year provided $243,000 in state money to pay employees. Except for Daniel Stowell, the project’s director, the project’s employees are university employees, but salaries come largely from the state as well as federal grants that require matching funds and private gifts.

In the past, matching money to obtain federal grants has come from the state, Stowell told the advisory board. Without state money, Stowell told the board that as much as $200,000 per year in federal grants could be lost for the project that began in the 1980s.

And this:

Advisory board members at Thursday’s meeting also discussed the deterioration of the library division of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum...Staff shortages have become so acute that departments are closing earlier in the day than scheduled due lack of staff.

Board members discussed the possibility of requiring researchers to schedule appointments 48 hours in advance. Patrons now can simply walk in unannounced to conduct research. The notion of research-by-appointment didn’t sit well with Sam Wheeler, a research historian for ALPLM. He called such an idea “reckless.”

“I think the conversation should not be about restricting hours at all at this presidential library,” Wheeler told the advisory board. “I think we should be talking about the appropriate people to hire so that we can begin rebuilding our library.”

The library lacks a cataloguer and an acquisitions specialist. Kathryn Harris, the former director, has not been replaced since her retirement last spring. The library recently hired an audio-visual specialist, but he is working on a contract basis and is not a full-fledged state employee.

Wheeler said that the library needs employees, not contract workers.

Read the entire Illinois Times article here.