According to an article in The Columbus Dispatch (Mark Niquette, “Society Board: 26 Jobs History”, April 12, 2008, pp. B1-B2), the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) is discharging 26 employees; curtailing its operations at its main facility, the Ohio Historical Center (OHC) in Columbus, from six days a week to four; and cutting hours at many of its 52 state-wide sites. Moreover, 21 open positions will not be filled and 49 current employees will be working fewer hours per week.
These cut backs are the result of a $2 million deficiency in OHS’s annual budget. This short fall, which accounts for approximately nine percent of the Society’s annual budget, has been primarily caused by the state legislature’s failure to support the OHS. State funding for the OHS accounts for nearly 60 percent of their total budget, according to the OHS Annual Report (2007). The State began reducing their support for the OHS in 2000 and there is no indication at present that either political party or the governor will reverse this trend.
The reduction in operating hours at the OHC adversely impacts my research on the Warren G. Harding papers and research for a proposed book on the history of the Ohio National Guard. The OHS Archives, which is essential for my research, is open only three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday) eight hours each day.
These limited hours for research affect not just the scholarly researcher but every Ohio citizen who has a need or an interest in any of the OHS Archives holdings. Moreover, reduced hours at the other OHS locations severely diminishes the Society’s state-wide educational mission.
Regrettably, news stories about reduced funding for research, scholarship, education, historic preservation, or libraries and archives are no longer novel.