Library open records request 2012-10-26

The most-organized open records response ever! Well, that we’ve asked for, anyway. Sure, sometimes local government bodies deliver a three-ring binder of papers. Sometimes they deliver a CD. Sometimes they deliver on a USB stick. Nobody ever delivered all of the above. OK, I brought the USB stick and the scanner (not pictured), but look at that CD lying on top of the really thick binder: the CD contains everything that’s in the binder, and that saved us a lot of scanning time.

Thank you, Kelly Lenz, Patrick Spurlock, and Tom Gooding!

It will take a bit of time to process all this information; stay tuned.

Kelly Lenz, Library Director, Tom Gooding, Attorney

Kelly Lenz, Library Director, Tom Gooding, Attorney
Left to right: an extra item, the four architect presentations, the “bible” of what the new library should be (the thick binder and the CD), and agendas, minutes, and board packets (the other two binders).
Picture by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
at South Georgia Regional Library, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 26 October 2012.

I know of at least one open records request somewhere else that, two years later and counting, still isn’t satisfied, for items that it’s difficult to understand how a certain local government can function if it doesn’t have them readily available for its own employees to reference. And another about simple receipts that took six months to produce. And another open records request for agendas and minutes, that, more than a year later, that board is still stonewalling about.

Maybe it takes a library to deliver open records. Maybe other local government bodies might want to take notes.

Here’s the open records request that resulted in the documents pictured above. You may wonder why it took them more than three days to provide the information. Nobody ever sent them an open records request. Ever, in the memory of anyone now working with the library board, or previous directors of the library. So they had to figure out what to do. Plus, as you can see, that is a rather massive array of records.


From: “John S. Quarterman”
To: Patrick Spurlock
Cc: “John S. Quarterman”
Subject: open records request
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2012 12:05:04 -0400

Here’s a written reminder of my open records request of Thursday 18 October 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing you this afternoon at 4PM. I’ll bring a scanner.

Pursuant to the open records law, I would like to inspect and copy the following library board records:

Minutes and agendas and packets and RFPs for library board meetings going back a year: both for the South Georgia Regional Library Board and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Library Board.

The four architect presentations in the last cut before the decision for the architect for the new library.

Building plan guidelines that the architects had to follow.

The “bible” of what the new library should be.

As we discussed, the recent revisions of the Georgia open records law change the per-page charge for most copies from 25 cents to 10 cents.

Since the recent changes to the open meetings and open records law are new to everyone, I’ve included here a few references to those changes.

Here is a video of the Industrial Authority’s attorney explaining some of the changes:

AJC report on the governor signing the changes into law:

ACCG summary of the changes:

GMA summary of the changes:

H.B. 397, the law which makes the changes:

Please see line 490 in H.B. 397 for the per-page price change.

However, since I will bring a photocopier, library staff should not need to make most copies. Please see lines 455-457 in H.B. 397.

Any documents that can be made available in PDF or other electronic format will save everyone time and effort, since no photocopying will be required. I will bring a USB stick for electronic copies. Please see lines 532-547 in H.B. 397.

Also, please note that the new law codifies that providing “access to records through a website accessible by the public” is an acceptable delivery mechanism. Please see lines 587-588 in H.B. 397.

If there are any questions about my request, I may be contacted at:

John S. Quarterman