The hearing today on the Proposed New Access Rules for Records at the NYC Municipal Archives was well attended and included many genealogists speaking passionately about allowing open access with reasonable fees.
You can still (and need to) add your comments until October 30th at https://rules.cityofnewyork.us/rule/32136/ and by emailing DORISrules@records.nyc.gov. These are your records that the GFLI helped index and make more available to researchers. Share your stories about your own personal research at the Archives, what it means to you and how it needs to be more accessible and especially affordable.
Many members of the GFLI spoke today but they need to hear from you as well. These are the comments of the GFLI shared today with DORIS.
“GFLI is an organization representing 11 non-profit groups including genealogical and historical societies, and public libraries. Our members who extend across the United States and the world, as well as Long Island and New York City, have a common interest in the study and research of family history. In 2019, we reached hundreds of thousands of researchers through public meetings, our websites, and educational programs. The largest number of requests that GFLI member groups receive is for assistance with research for records from the Municipal Archives, in particular vital records. Understanding this need for greater access, GFLI provided thousands of volunteers to index NYC vital records as well as additional finding aids for archival resources, which greatly benefited DORIS. With the digital index, we have enabled better vital records access to researchers worldwide, made it easier for them to request records, and have improved DORIS employee efficiency in the process.
In addition to the volunteer hours of transcribing work, GFLI spent many more hours raising the funds to support the work itself, including copies, paper, postage, and high-speed scanners to create the searchable databases. We then freely donated the indices back to the Archives. All we asked in return was affordable and timely access to the records.
The recent publication of DORIS’s rule change affecting personal use, licensing of archival resources, and licensing fees, was not welcomed by supporters of the Archive and GFLI volunteers. Making the use of historical public records more restrictive and possibly unavailable for research purposes, or pricing the use of these materials beyond the means of many researchers, is in opposition to the spirit in which GFLI organized and donated their efforts over many years. If the public cannot easily access information contained in the records that the archive holds, and if we cannot share our findings, we cannot learn our essential family history. We find this unacceptable.The GFLI, in coordination with other historical and genealogical organizations requests this rule proposal be withdrawn.
Thank you for letting us express our concerns and views for the benefit of all people, all races, all economic levels. We are happy to work with you going forward in making records more accessible to all.”