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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heritage Lost?

There is sad news for those interested in genealogy and history of the Iron Range in northeast Minnesota today. We have learned from staff at the Iron Range Research Library that they are closing for lack of operating funds. In fact, a news story from WDIO TV indicates that the entire facility (recently renamed the Minnesota Discovery Center) will be shuttered.

It remains to be seen what will become of the collections and archives of the Research Library. They have been collecting and preserving records of the area for many years. Folk from the region had trust that the records would be safely preserved for the education and use of this and future generations. It would seem that in the current economic and political climate that those charged with management and responsibility for that trust feel safe in breaking the contract implicit in their agreement to preserve these historical and genealogical records.

The bottom line is that nobody will be discovering anything at the Minnesota Discovery Center anymore. Northeast Minnesota's historical and genealogical records are locked up tight. Money is the key that can unlock them for public use again, but I don't see much hope of that happening anytime soon. It seems quite ironic that the facility should be allowed to languish when hundreds of thousands of dollars in legacy funds have been made available recently for funding of arts and history programs by a tax authorized by voters in 2008 for exactly the purpose that the Research Center Library served. Because the Iron Range Research Center was established and serving this purpose prior to the passage of the tax, they are ineligible for this funding.

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