State cuts stack up at Minnesota Historical Society

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(Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

State budget cutbacks have lead to a huge stack of newspapers at the Minnesota Historical Society. That’s causing concern at county and local levels, reports the Pipestone County Star.

Dennis Meissner, the historical society’s head of collections management, says state law requires newspapers that print official public notices to file a copy of each issue at the society. With more than 400 “official” newspapers across the state, that’s means thousands of issues a year are sent to the historical society for permanent storage.

Until 2009, the historical society largely archived the newspapers on microfilm. But state budget cutbacks forced them to halt that process.

Since then, the society has been storing the actual paper and ink version of each and every edition of these newspapers. That’s a lot of copies — “about 50,000,” Meissner says.

He says about 10,000 newspapers are stored at the main historical society building in St. Paul. The remaining 40,000 issues are at a separate storage site.

The above photo shows workers packing some of the 40,000 for transfer to the second storage area. The historical society is switching to a digital newspaper storage system, which will be available on line.

If everything goes according to plan, Meissner says, in a year or so the historical society will be able to stop storing the paper versions.

  • In what format will they store the newspapers? This cost is yet another reason to release local governments from the obligation of having to pay the inordinate sums that newspapers charge to publish notices in print.