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New Arizona Archives Reading Room Closes Due to Budget Cuts; $29 Million Facility Opened in November

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The new, $29 million Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building Reading Room that opened late last year has closed until further notice -- another victim of state budget cuts.

"I'm hoping something is going to happen so that we can re-open it," says GladysAnn Wells, (pictured), state librarian and director of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

Stuck for years in a cramped space at the State Capitol, the new facility at 19th Avenue and Madison Street pleased state workers and visitors alike with "50 times more room" for reading and research, according to a November 30, 2008 Cronkite New Service article. Wells says the facility had been seeing about 10 to 25 visitors a day, but now will be available only for research "emergencies."

The state agency's Law and Research Library Divison, the "primary legal resource" for state officials, will remain open on reduced hours -- from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wells says.

The Polly Rosenbaum facility is typically used by people researching land ownership claims, looking up family history or general research on subjects like Wyatt Earp, former governors or the women's suffrage movement. The staff helped visitors find the answers to more than 20,000 questions in 2008, statistics show. The building's meeting rooms will also be off-limits to the public indefinitely.

Even if Rosenbaum had stayed open, though, few staffers would be around to help people research anything. Wells says budget cuts have eliminated most of the agency's staff members. For instance, the number of general research helpers went from 13 to three. Lawmakers and other users of the legal research library will also find few helpers: that division's staff was cut from 45 to 12 employees, Wells says.

Administrative offices for the agency will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and an agency service for the blind will be unaffected, thanks to federal funds. However, tours at the State Capitol Museum will now only be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Libraries everywhere are taking hits -- Phoenix libraries opened to reduced hours yesterday.

Maybe that cramped archive space wasn't so bad after all... 

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