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I am a believer that things happen for a reason. There is a purpose to things. Call it fate, karma, coincidence.
Last week I was honored to be asked if I would consider being on the town’s historical society board. Today, I read this article in the newspaper about the concern over the lack of preservation of Vermont’s historical documents and relics. There is a need for access by grass roots country towns and historical societies to access federal and other grants which can provide them with the financial means to properly protect important historical information and documents from deterioration from the weather, in addition to theft because they are often maintained in less than ideal situations.
To help, a national coalition of institutions is trying to develop a local grant program.
“Federal funds need to be getting down to the grass roots to address questions of collections care,” says David Donath, president of Vermont’s Woodstock Foundation and chairman of the American Association for State and Local History.
Although Vermont historical societies welcome money, they’re also calling for grant-writing assistance, as almost 90 percent surveyed are run by volunteers.
“As funders continue to increase their requirements, request more information on their applications and only provide for online filing,” the study says, “Vermont’s many volunteer or part-time staffed institutions find the process frustrating, overwhelming, and exclusionary.”
In the meantime, the report suggests institutions draft a simple emergency plan, noting more than two-thirds don’t have one and consider it their greatest need.
“Most Vermont institutions have a good sense of what they need in order to take care of their collections, but lack the staff, money and expertise to do so,” the study says. “Finding the most popular and affordable type of educational assistance for institutions will be key to collections care in Vermont.”
There appears to be frustration in the public’s volunteer ability to have the time and experience to access some of the funding out there that might be available to fix the storage and preservation problems. This opportunity which I have been offered might prove not only informative, and educational, but also interesting. I think, that my answer to the question, must be “yes”.