WILLIAMSBURG — City Manager Jack Tuttle made an appearance on national television today because of a City Council decision to nix paper agendas in favor of Apple iPads as a money-saving venture.
The city launched itself into the 21st century in July when the council voted unanimously to forgo printing thousands of pages of agendas and other documents distributed to council members each year. Instead, each of the five council members was issued an iPad at a cost of about $600 apiece.
The measure should save a minimum $2,000 per year on council agendas alone. At today’s City Council meeting, Tuttle said the city saved $471 in printing costs by using the iPads to deliver the meeting’s agenda packets rather than printing them.
I’m on the periphery of record management, believe me; I’m an archivist and a curator, so my work is far more subjective. But I do know that municipalities are drowning in paper, churning out more and more every day, and needing to retain all of it… and the space required, and the practical considerations, are daunting. That printing cost savings may not sound like a bundle, but it adds up… and so does the clutter.
My town used to not only print but *bind* the Town Board minutes, and then have a separate set printed for each and every councilmember and department head. Which added up to a dozen or so of these things, and there are about 50 volumes. Sigh. I am the Lorax, and I speak for the trees that wee slaughtered to make all those ugly tomes.
Thankfully the town stopped producing the things. And no one wants their old copies now, of course, but they’re all scanned in and digitized and let’s be honest, finding anything in the printed copies was like looking for a needle in a haystack anyhow. Now, of COURSE I have a set, at the town museum, and of course I’m keeping it. But how many copies of the 1943 volume do you think I need? One? Or twelve?
Documenting the business of history is important, but I think it’s high time more municipalities tried something like Williamsburg is doing.