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New and improved Archives & Records Center June 14, 2011 -- The Westchester County Archives & Records Center in Elmsford celebrated its “re-opening” June 13 new climate-controlled vaults,  additional storage space and a new online collection of historical photographs and maps. There is also a new digital collection that can be previewed in a video.        

The 50-year-old building at 2199 Saw Mill River Road has been updated and renovated under a major capital improvement project that focused on improving safety and security.  In addition to the new look, the Archives staff announced the launch of the Digital Collections, now found online at www.westchestergov.com/wcarchives.  More than 9,000 historical photographs and maps have been scanned and placed online where they can be easily searched and accessed by the public.{vimeo}25143939{/vimeo}

“The renovations mean we can now operate the Archives & Records Center more efficiently, which lowers our expenses,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “For the public, the new technology creates greater accessibility and makes it much easier to do research. That’s good news for everyone.”

Archives Director Patty DohrenwendArchives Director Patty Dohrenwend said that having original records housed in secure archival storage is one element of being a ‘history keeper,’ but also noted the importance of providing for cost-efficient and easy use of them by residents.

“Our staff and volunteers can spend considerable time searching our files for requested records,” she said. “The large amount of information we’ve now put online – indexes to our records series, the Digital Collections and the Virtual Archives – will make it easier for people to find the documents they’re looking for and increase public awareness of Westchester’s rich past.”

Since the county purchased the Archives & Records Center in 1973 to store its historical records, there has been only one other renovation – in 1988-89, when the storage warehouse was expanded, archival vaults were installed, and the private library of the Westchester County Historical Society was added.
 
With this latest project, more than 4,800 sq. ft. of warehouse space has been converted to a new state-of-the-art vault that is adjacent to the existing vaults, which were too crowded to accommodate the growing number of records deserving of environmentally controlled storage.

Already more than 8,000 cu. ft. of historical documents have been re-located from warehouse conditions to the new vault, and there is an additional 6,000 cu. ft. of potential storage for growth of the two collections. Mobile compact shelving units have increased capacity three-fold in a manner that the duplicative and expensive mezzanine style vaults of the 1980s could not offer.

In addition to visiting the Archives online, the public is encouraged to stop by the reference area, which is open without appointment every Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., except for national holidays.  With access to two complementary collections, visitors may discover the history of their family or property.  Samples of the images from the Digital Collections can also be viewed on the office walls, and reproductions can be ordered by the public.