NARA Executive Briefing in NYC
On November 3, 2005, at the New York Public Library, NARA's Northeast Region hosted "Securing our National Heritage," a three-hour program designed to raise public awareness about records security. The Museum, Library and Cultural Properties Facility Group of Greater New York City co-sponsored the event, which was attended by 115 directors, archivists, curators, librarians, and other cultural staff members from the NY/NJ areas.
Diane LeBlanc, Northeast Regional Administrator, was host to the Archivist of the United States, Dr. Allen Weinstein, and other NARA panelists, including Inspector General Paul Brachfeld, General Counsel Gary M. Stern, and Assistant Archivist for Regional Records Services Tom Mills. Dr. Weinstein chaired the first panel: "What is NARA doing to protect our National Heritage?" Dr. Weinstein emphasized that theft of records cuts across all lines of our professional commitments and that everyone needs to cooperate in addressing these issues. The Archivist also noted that, "we are at the very beginning of what will be a long campaign by NARA, in partnership with a number of other organizations, to bring these issues to the attention of the public and to our own communities. This program is a first step in that direction."
NARA Inspector General Paul Brachfeld recalled the lessons learned from the Aubitz and Harner cases, while reporting on NARA's efforts to actively and aggressively secure and recover stolen items. Representatives from the OIG's office in attendance were Ross Weiland, Kelly Maltagliati, and Tracy Burnett. The Inspector General's office recently prepared a brochure instructing the public on how to identify stolen records and to take appropriate action by contacting NARA. Diane LeBlanc added that the OIG prepared webpages, "Recovering Lost and Stolen Documents," to aid the public as well.
NARA General Counsel Gary M. Stern spoke about theft violations on the federal level and the replevin of records. Tom Mills, Assistant Archivist of the Regional Records Services, discussed new NARA initiatives, such as the importance of having "clean research rooms" in all the regions, moving staff work space out of stack areas, checking records for audit trails, and the overall impact on Customer Service throughout NARA nationwide. Tom Mills reiterated that "another key part is to constantly raise awareness to staff that this is an issue." A lively question and answer period followed each session at the New York Public Library's Trustee Room.
The second panel, "The Right Stuff: Recovering Nassau County's Stolen Heritage," was comprised of local officials from the Nassau County Museum Services and the Nassau County's District Attorney's office. They highlighted two cases, including theft from a library by a researcher and theft at the county network of museums by a "trusted employee." The panel was chaired by Dale Gregory, Co-Chair of the Museum, Library and Cultural Properties Facility Group of Greater New York City. The program concluded with the FBI's art and museum theft specialist focusing on how the FBI can assist with theft and recovery efforts at all levels. For anyone interested in learning more about this program, contact the Northeast Region- New York City facility.
For more information see:
Help the National Archives Recover Lost and Stolen Documents