ATLANTA (AP) — Starting in November, most visitors to the Georgia Archives in Morrow will have to make an appointment to do their research in two-hour blocks.
On Monday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp released the schedule that will be in effect Nov. 1. The archives will be open by appointment only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the first and second week of each month. It will be closed to the public entirely during the third and fourth weeks of each month.
Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said the archives center is laying off seven of its 10 workers as part of a statewide directive from Gov. Nathan Deal to cut costs. Kemp said in the news release that he will work with the governor and lawmakers to eventually restore funding to the archives so that it could again open to the public.
The secretary of state oversees the archives, which had been open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Kemp has said he believes the moves will make the Georgia Archives the only one in the country without regular public hours. Opponents have warned such cuts will stifle research and conservation efforts.
Deal has ordered every state office to reduce spending by 3 percent for the remainder of the current budget year, which runs through June 30, 2013, and again in the following year. That totals almost $733,000 for Kemp's office.
The archives houses historical records commonly used for everything from scholarly research to family trees. Employees also work to preserve important documents ranging from maps to books.
The plan will allow for 288 visitors — nearly the same number the archives accommodates each month. However, most will be limited to two hours, while some two-and-a-half-hour appointments are available in the original documents section.
Anyone using the Open Documents Research Area will have to tell staff what they need when they make the appointment so that the records can be pulled and waiting for them when they arrive.