Andrew Hunt, library director, explained the $435 grant would go toward the Cleveland History Branch and Archives. The branch has a long history of preserving county court records. This particular selection totals out at 1,049.
“Preservation of our past is important to our community,” Hunt said. “This helps us preserve county records, clean them and store them in a way to save them for the future.”
Patrons eager to learn more about their family often turn to the court records. These documents are stored in a large, cool and dark room. Treasure Swanson, history branch librarian, said the temperature must stay between 40 and 70 degrees. Thick curtains block out the sun and a film was placed on the windows to cut down on the sun’s heat.
The grant will allow Swanson and other librarians to buy materials needed to preserve a selection of records from October 1977 through 1979.
Librarians are currently working on placing obituary citations online. Swanson said the staff would begin work on the 1,049 circuit court cases following the end of the obituary project. The documents will be moved from their current holdings to acid-free boxes, paper and folders. All metal bars will be taken out of the documents’ folders.
Swanson said this is not the first time the history branch has stored records for the county. There are some in the large, dark room dating back to 1902.
“The county has some space under the courthouse, but if we can hold some of them, it takes them off the county’s hands and allows our patrons access,” Swanson said. “…I suspect just having this information is a benefit to the community.”
In fact, the history branch has taken so many records, space is becoming rather limited.
Swanson said the library is running out of space, “Unless we air condition and fix up a room upstairs.”
Genealogical researchers often use the documents stored at the library to find out more information on their family. Hunt said the documents give the library’s patrons a glimpse into their ancestors’ lives.
Tre Hargett, Tennessee secretary of state, emphasized the importance of archiving in a letter to the library.
“Local archives are important to every community in Tennessee and to the strength of our heritage and historical identity,” Hargett said. “It is essential these records are preserved and made available for public examination as required by state law.”
According to Hargett, a total of $45,500 per year has been made available for program improvement grants to local government archives since 1999.
He said grants are important to the way the library operates and offered his thanks.
“We are very grateful to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for providing this money, because it does help us preserve our collection for the community,” Hunt said.