The County’s History Task Force—charged with creating a vision capturing, preserving and sharing online Arlington’s history – has made its final recommendations to the County Manager.
“Technology allows us to generate a vast amount of information – both as a County and as a community,” Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz said in his report to the County Board on the Task Force’s efforts. “This group of residents, who share a love for Arlington and for telling its story, looked at ways to prioritize what information we keep, and how to make it available to everyone in a cost-effective, efficient way. I thank them for their year-long effort to develop a path forward.”
Schwartz said he is directing staff to immediately begin working on the task force’s recommendation that the County collaborate with Arlington Public Schools to integrate more local history into the curriculum at all levels, and to preserve and share the history of County schools.
“I am also asking staff to review this report in full, and to come back with a response in 90 days,” Schwartz said.
The task force offered six recommendations, to be implemented over the next five years:
- Develop a long-term strategy to establish a unified digital archives to include County government and community materials with a common metadata cataloging scheme
- Allocate staffing/resources to support ongoing County operations for archiving (capture, classify, digitize, and preserve)
- Invest in facilities and infrastructure dedicated to storing, preserving, and providing public access to digital and physical records
- Appoint a dedicated Records Coordinator in each County department
- Expand records preservation training and education program for County employees
- Collaborate with Arlington Public Schools to further integrate local history topics into the school curriculum and ensure preservation of historical school records
“This report moves the County toward a solid commitment for preserving and celebrating the legacy of our families, our community and our government. We worked hard as a group to define that need,” task force member Casey Stevenson said.
A year ago, then-County Manager Barbara Donnellan asked the group to look at ways to standardize how the County ensures those pieces of government and community life that tell the stories of their time are made readily available.
Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh and County Chief Information Officer Jack Belcher jointly led the task force.
Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History is the community’s official repository of documents, oral histories and other records, and includes materials donated by individuals, civic groups and businesses. The Department of Technology Services, led by Belcher, is charged with preserving millions of digital County records.
Task force survey
The task force was guided in part by the results of a summer online survey, which generated some 450 responses from residents and other stakeholders. The results showed overall enthusiasm for expanding and streamlining County historic preservation and especially bridging the gap between the physical and the digital.
Several respondents also called for expansion of the Center for Local History and its services.
The task force’s efforts are already having an impact. As endorsed in the task force’s mid-term report, all old records stored at the County’s Woodmont Center have now been moved to an off-site facility with improved environmental and fire-suppression systems. Visit the Arlington Public Library website to view a complete copy of the report.