OLYMPIA — The Washington State Archives (Archives) is providing webinars to assist local governments in preparing grant applications for the Archives’ Local Records Grant Program for the 2020-21 grant cycle. Local government employees may register online at the Archive’s website to participate. The webinars take place from 10-11 a.m. on the following dates:

February 19

March 5

March 17

A prerecorded training video is also available.

About grants

Any local government agency or entity is eligible to receive one of three types of grants — technology tools, file-room organization, or digital imaging. Applications will be accepted beginning March 23 through April 17.

“I’m excited to kick off this grant cycle to assist counties and cities in preserving our state’s historical documents and important records,” said State Archivist Steve Excell. “Records management can be painstaking and challenging work, and it’s important local governments, many of which simply don’t have the resources, receive the assistance they need to fulfill this key archival duty.”

The Secretary of State awards grants based on recommendations from the Archives Oversight Committee, a collection of county auditors, county clerks, and representatives from local government. Preference for grant awards is given to an entity’s size, need, and its ability to improve public records retention, records management, and public disclosure. Grant awards will be announced on July 1.

Past recipients have touted the grant program as a critical resource in their public records management.

“The age and frequency of use for some of the documents was leading to their disintegration. Disappearing public records are not in anyone’s best interest. This imaging project allows for their continued frequent use without further disturbing them,” said Adams County Public Works, a previous recipient of the Digital Imaging grant.

More than $640,000 was awarded during the previous grant cycle, bringing Archives’ grant awards total to more than $2 million since the program’s inception.

The Local Record Grants Program was created by the Legislature in 2017 to help improve records retention, management, and disclosure of public records. Secretary Wyman applauded the passage of a bill last year that extended the program indefinitely.

“In many of Washington’s small towns and cities, valuable historic public documents are literally kept in closets or stored in someone’s basement,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman, whose office oversees the State Archives. “By continuing this grant program, the state is demonstrating its interest in the organization and preservation of irreplaceable records, and providing a means with which resource-strapped local governments can make that happen.”