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A Revolution in Archives, continued from page 5

steadily deteriorating high acid paper. It was thought prudent to turn the project back to
the state with a modest endowment made up of the residue of the annual subsidy and
the modest income from sales.

We jumped at the chance. With the approval of the legislature we invested the money
and allowed the interest to accumulate until we had enough to fund another volume,
entitled An Historical List of Public Officials of Maryland, 1634-1990 (Annapolis, MD:
Maryland State Archives, 1990), which we thought would be the first volume in a new
series. At the time we had no idea it would be the last to be traditionally edited and
printed. While we waited another four years for the interest to accumulate to the point
where we could afford to publish the next, a revolution occurred in information access
and sharing that opened a whole new vista for the archival world. In 1994, before all of
our colleagues in other State Archives, the National Archives, and the Library of
Congress, the Maryland State Archives went online with its website, then with the
unwieldy url of www.mdarchives.state.md.us, but now shortened to www.mdsa.net.

Our first objective was to let the world know what treasures our stacks contained. We
provided the first comprehensive online guide to holdings while anticipating the
American Memory Project with documents online in our Documents for the Classroom
series and our Museum Online, still regular features of our site. The results were
astounding. From a modest investment of $50,000 to get us up and running, we now
maintain several servers for ourselves and a number of state agencies, the firewall for the
Annapolis campus of state government, and websites for such agencies as the Governor's
office and the State Election Board (which has excellent historical information linked to
materials available at the State Archives). Use of the Archives' website (mdsa.net) and
the Maryland Electronic Capital (www.mec. state.md.us), which we designed as a portal
for state government information, has grown exponentially in the last several years. In
FY 1999 these sites handled 6.2 million hits, and during FY 2000 this activity more than
doubled to 13.2 million requests. The projection for the current fiscal year based on
activity to date will amount to over 31 million. The estimate for FY 2002 is 59 million
requests. This response to the resources made available at the Archives is attributable not
only to the popularity of the Internet but also to the Archives' continuing efforts to
provide greater access to materials online and public response to the resources that are
available. To support the work of the Archives, we designed and implemented a site for
the Maryland Court system, www.plats.net, which is incorporating scans of all oversized
materials filed with the courts (principally mapping of subdivisions and condominiums),
saving valuable office space and providing an unparalleled historical mapping resource.
To date, www.plats.net provides sufficient income to sustain the archival material in
electronic form and a modest income for other collateral archival activities such as the
mounting of web-based indexes to land records and the retrospective images of the land
records themselves.

Plats.net is the largest undertaking to date in the new Archives of Maryland Online, which
as of the first of the year had grown from the modest seventy-two volumes of its first
hundred years of existence to 215, some of which encompass access to literally hundreds
of thousands of images of original archival material. How we have been able to do so
much since 1994, particularly in the two years since we implemented the Archives of
Maryland Online, has been due exclusively to the hard work of a very small staff and the
miracle of the Internet.

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