From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

I do not have e-mail.

Although the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has made enormous progress in many ways in recent years, we have lagged behind in investing in technologies normally associated with government agencies and cultural institutions. However, a tremendous transformation is underway and within two years we will dramatically change the way we conduct business.

Installation of a voice mail system and a Local Area Network (LAN) should improve inter-office communications, as well as increase our access to users throughout the Commonwealth – and beyond. The LAN will enable our staff to more efficiently manage large databases in such fields as collections, maintenance of historic sites and museums, and historic preservation.

With the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we will participate in a new Geographic Information System (GIS) to document the locations of archaeological sites, architectural landmarks, and historic districts. GIS will provide critical mapping information to expedite major public construction projects and to better protect valuable cultural resources.

In partnership with the Commonwealth’s Office of Administration, we are acquiring a CD-ROM production service that will enable state agencies to store and retrieve information at a fraction of the current costs. This will greatly benefit our records management program and enhance the role of the Pennsylvania State Archives in protecting public records.

Another exciting technological initiative is the installation of a distance learning program at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. Through the support of Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania and federal grants, school districts in northern counties can access curators and collections by interactive telecommunications. It’s now possible to bring the museum into schools too far from Harrisburg to schedule field trips.

Offering information about the PHMC’s programs and services, auto­mated kiosks featuring special audio and visual sections showcasing historic sites and museums, publications, and state historical markers have been placed at a dozen locations throughout the Commonwealth. More details about the Commission are also available on the governor’s home page on the Internet, where more than a thousand inquiries are being recorded each month. Several historic sites, including the U.S. Brig Niagara, offer home pages on the World Wide Web, a service we are greatly expanding. And, yes, we will have e-mail.

New technologies will allow us to better manage our public service programs and to effectively communicate with our diverse audiences. The promise of such advances, however, is possible only if the PHMC has a clear sense of purpose and remains focused on its core functions to preserve and interpret the Keystone State’s rich heritage.

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director