If Nicholas Cage’s fictional National Treasure historian-turned-hero, Benjamin Gates, could see the state of the circa-1962 Washington State Archives, would he steal its priceless historical documents to save them from possible “catastrophic destruction by a fire or flood?”
This spin-off plot is as unrealistic as it is eye-roll inducing and humorous. Unfortunately, there is nothing humorous about the actual state of said archives which Secretary of State Kim Wyman said is “critical” and needs immediate attention from the Legislature.
A statement released by Wyman’s office notes that both the State Archives on the Capitol Campus and the Washington State Library in Tumwater have outgrown their respective facilities long ago.
“Our State Archives building lacks fire suppression for most records areas. It regularly suffers leaks from the water and sewer pipes that hang from the concrete ceilings in archival storage areas,” Wyman said in statement.
Due to these conditions, numerous state documents are housed in leased locations that Wyman said have become obsolete. The solution? Wyman suggests consolidating the State Library and Archives into one state-owned facility which would allow for future preservation and growth of the collection.
In 2018, the Legislature appropriated $5 million for the facility’s design work and project planning. Building on that preliminary investment, Wyman’s 2019 project proposal to the Legislature includes siting, architectural, and fiscal planning.
“Our Legislature has a tremendous opportunity this year to resolve this longstanding and worsening need, while simultaneously making wise use of state resources by consolidating a number of divisions into one location,” Wyman said.