Mercer County seeks grant to hire archivist

MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County commissioners are applying for a grant to temporarily hire an archivist to help the county deal with a growing records storage problem.
At their chief clerk's meeting Tuesday, commissioners said the grant application is ready to send to the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. Commissioner Michele Brooks said, if awarded, the grant would provide 50 percent of the cost of hiring an archivist for one year. The amount or details of the archivist's employment were not available.
The archivist, an expert in keeping public records, would advise the county on which records must be kept and what can be disposed of, as well as how to record them before they are destroyed. They would also make recommendations on how to store the records.
Brooks said there are records from the 1800s, which are moldy because they are stored in damp places. Commissioner Olivia Lazor said the records did not have to be saved but were kept because they can be helpful to researchers. But certain types of records, such as criminal trial records, must be kept "in perpetuity" Lazor said.
For now, they are stored in the courthouse attic, annex, "everywhere," according to Brooks. Commissioners are looking at the current county jail as a potential storage site once the new jail is ready. They hope the records currently being stored in unsuitable sites can be moved there.

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