Washington State’s new law requiring libraries to install electronic records could save millions of dollars
Washington State has passed a new law that would require libraries to provide electronic records.
The bill, which passed the state House of Representatives on Monday, also allows library patrons to review records electronically.
It would be the first statewide law requiring digital records for the public to review.
The proposal also includes the possibility of libraries being able to charge for access to information.
It was introduced by Rep. Joe Hurd, D-Bellingham, in response to a Washington Post article detailing the growing use of electronic records by local governments.
The measure, sponsored by Rep, Hurd said it would help “provide a secure and convenient place for public records to be searched and reviewed.”
The bill also aims to save the state from the cost of maintaining records at the county level, which could cost as much as $5,000 to keep a copy of every document, he said.
“We need to keep this data in the public domain so we can have access to it whenever we need it,” Hurd told reporters.
Hurd introduced the bill after several libraries across the state faced an influx of requests for public information after the release of the Panama Papers.
The Washington State Library Association and several libraries nationwide have already started accepting applications for electronic records from the public.
The new bill, Huth said, is a response to public demands for public documents that have been previously kept at the local level.
The state of Washington already requires libraries to keep copies of the public records at their respective local levels, but it’s not a requirement nationwide.