Digitization is underway for Cayuga County’s records at its records center.
Inspired by the work of Tompkins County Clerk Maureen Reynolds, County Clerk Sue Dwyer set out to digitize the contents of the county’s record center. She says phase one of the Digital Records Electronic Access Management System (DREAMS) project is underway.
“There’s four phases. We’re in phase one,” Dwyer told Finger Lakes News Radio,” … so we’re on load, I think 11. So each load is about 200 boxes. The county clerk’s records are going first They’re the ones so we’re doing the hardest first.”
According to Dwyer, the clerk’s records take up nearly 1/3 of the entire record center, presently housed at the former Cayuga County Jail. Phases two through four will consist of digitizing the remaining records from different departments. She believes, that upon completing all four phases, departments may decide to digitize the records currently stored at their offices.
By using Laserfiche, a “Software as a Service” cloud-based file management system, records will be easily accessible to the public as well as easier to locate and send to the public and between departments. Dwyer added the county is already using the service to search and access records that have been digitized.
Another benefit of the digitization process is that, since this is a county project, municipalities and organizations within the county can then join in and digitize their records, a move similar to neighboring Tompkins County.
“[Tompkins County Clerk Maureen Reynolds] started with her county but she then did all the towns; all the towns joined in. They just need licenses to get in. Then they did the school. Then they did the city. Then they did everything.” Dwyer continued, “Because we started this at the county level they can also buy into the system.”
For those concerned with historic preservation, Dwyer says older records will be kept as those made in 1910 or earlier cannot be destroyed without permission from the state.
Funded through a $2 million federal grant and $2 million dollars in ARPA funding, over 12,000 cubic feet of paper, microfilm, and historical books will be digitized when the project is completed, something anticipated to happen in three to four years.
Dwyer will not be the county clerk when the project is completed as she is retiring at the end of her term. She said this will be a major part of her legacy after 20 years in the role.
“We’re making good progress and I’m very proud. Like I said, this is going to be a legacy for me, this project. It’s big.”