Wright State University is planning an $8.2 million relocation and renovation project to better preserve its historic collections.
The university’s Archives Center Modernization Project would include the renovation of 30,000 square feet of space at 2455 Presidential Drive, and the relocation of its Special Collections and Archives to this facility.
The new space offers “appropriate environmental conditions for our priceless historic collections,” according to the university. Environmental controls would include precise regulation of temperature, humidity, light and air quality, as well as appropriate fire protection and suppression.
The Archives Center would house more than 16,000 linear feet of collections, as well as some 20,000 books and journals.
Wright State officials say the project fits a community need by increasing access to historic documents, preserving history and creating space for expanding collections.
The university wants to make its archives easily accessible to local, regional, national and global communities. Increased access may especially benefit school-age through doctoral students, scholars, researchers, authors and filmmakers.
University officials said the project is a priority because “we’re losing time to save materials that diminish in quality each day.”
In addition to poor environmental conditions, the collections have “substantially outgrown” their current space. By constructing a new center, the university would create 18,000 square feet of additional space for these historic materials.
Included in the archives are the largest Wright Brothers collection in the world, according to the university, papers from Gov. James M. Cox, Dayton Daily News archives, poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar and regional/community records.
Wright State officials estimated that 400,000 people will be impacted by the project.
“Our goal is to make the Archives Center a magnet for those who want to absorb the powerful information available within the 16,000 linear feet of collections and 20,000 volumes,” Wright State wrote in a funding application. “Access to our collections will be in the form of visitors including school children, reference requests, web hits, guests who come for tours and to view exhibits, to attend presentations and events, and who read our blogs.
The project would also create one to 10 new jobs, and retain 11 to 25 others. As the collections continue to grow, the university would need to add more professional and administrative staff to the archives team.
To date, Wright State has received nearly $423,000 in gifts from individual donors. The university is also holding fundraisers, which is slated to raise an additional $6 million in private donations.
Another $6 million match will come from the university’s purchase of the former Wright-Patt Credit Union headquarters, which will house the archives.
Though the university has pledged a significant investment, it is still seeking $2.2 million in additional funding. Wright State has submitted an application through the Dayton Development Coalition’s Priority Development and Advocacy Committee, which helps local groups secure state funding for projects.
PDAC will accept public comments on this project and dozens of other submissions through Dec. 8. A review panel will consider the applications, and its recommendations will be submitted to the committee for final consideration. PDAC is expected to complete the funding process by April.
So far, the archives project has earned support from Amanda Wright Lane — great-grand niece of Wilbur and Orville Wright — the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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