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KDLA setting aside grant funding for tornado-impacted government agencies' records preservation

The apartment where Eric Wilkerson’s son survived the tornado.
Liam Niemeyer
A person walks through the remains of several apartment units after a tornado damaged the area, in Mayfield, Ky.

Kentucky Department of Library and Archives is allowing local government agencies whose records were either lost or damaged in December’s deadly tornado outbreak. The emergency funds are meant to offset any costs not covered by insurance for items related to the storing, recovery or preservation of documents.

Nicole Bryan is the Local Records Branch Manager at the KDLA. Bryan said that in times of emergency the state archive will assist local government agencies in rebounding from a loss of records.

“And hopefully, there are mechanisms in place already within those local offices that we can recreate (records),” Bryan told WKMS, explaining the reason for the grant. “So the money is set so we can help those offices either recreate the records or rebuild their offices.”

Each agency can make an initial request of $40,000 maximum with more funds able to be requested if need be. Bryan said expenditures could be for items like fireproof shelving, climate controlled filing cabinets, dehumidifiers and other items needed to properly preserve documents.

Bryan also said the KDLA keeps their own storage of microfilm copies of records submitted by agencies. In the event a document needs to be recreated, the KDLA would help agencies recreate their records through their back-up security microfilm or from electronic databases.

“Maybe the records are in the cloud or backed up elsewhere, we can provide assistance to get those recreated, so they can be more accessible. Not only electronically, but maybe also recreate the paper record.”

The KDLA will also assist in restoring paper documents that might be damaged. For example, in Graves County, many documents got wet or damp, and the KDLA are helping to get those soaked documents into a freezing process – the first step before a document can undergo further restoration.

Bryan said that while there is a Mar. 31 deadline for local agencies to apply, the KDLA is working to be flexible to meet the needs of these agencies and may adjust the rules of the grant as needed in the best interest of western Kentucky.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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