Yes, We Want That. And It’s OK.

To arms! Don't be shy!

To arms! Don’t be shy!

Upcoming changes to the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection are a sobering reminder that nothing’s a sure thing for research collections.

It’s vital for genealogists to lead the way in fighting for publicly accessible genealogy collections. But nothing is free and inevitably a contrarian question surfaces: Why should everyone pay for something only some of us want?

True, public funding isn’t a drive-through window where each individual can order fries with that. Which is why many U.S. cities float hundreds of millions in municipal bonds to build stadiums and prop up sports franchises that can’t make it on their own, regardless of the fact that not every citizen likes hockey, baseball, basketball or football.

Theoretically,* citizens in these places argued successfully to direct tax dollars toward pastimes that thrill some and not others. They made the case that supporting sports passion is good for everybody, including non-sports fans**.

If genealogy and local history enthusiasts make their case to the public and to their elected government, and actually succeed in gaining a far smaller amount of public bucks for THEIR passion, that’s democracy working. It’s not a bank heist.

There’s no shame in advocating for what is important to us.

Note: Via Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist, whose post is linked above, here are some contacts where you can express support for the Arizona genealogy community:

Update: See the message here from the Transitional Genealogists forum at Rootsweb: Although a lot of stuff is re-locating and digitizing, access should continue to the materials, though not always in book-bound form. Sounds like some good news. (But if you’re in that neck of the woods, it can’t hurt keep an eye on those guys to make sure the new order is everything they say it will be.)

Update 2: Unfortunately, it is definitely too soon to relax. Connie Sheets of the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board reports in her comment below: “Due to space and staff limitations, it is likely that only a small fraction (perhaps 500 of 20,000) of the collection will remain available, although we’re having a hard time getting specific answers to our questions.” So stay tuned.

*I say “theoretically” because in the case of sports franchises, the key voices usually belong to big-time players with big-time access. Not exactly grassroots stuff. But basically, still wheels squeaking.

**Even though the jury is still out on that.