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Some times the resistance is because 1) lack of understanding about the
public records law; 2) lack of familiarity with the archived material
they are responsible for; 3) because many of the records are in
disarray, or are not arranged in any easily accessible manner, looking
for a single record may take weeks - and they just don't have the time;
4) ego-based "I am in control and I am not going to let you tell me what
I am supposed to do" attitude; 5) just plain laziness/disinterest/can't
be bothered/too busy - have too many other things to do/what are you
bothering me for.

I don't know about the city of Boston, but many communities had
audits/surveys done of the materials in their vaults and records rooms
during the 40's (WPA, I think).  Workers went into the city and town
halls and made lists of everything in there, with their location.  Those
lists are at the state archives - search by town, and they are usually
found under miscellaneous box headings.  I found materials that dozens
of people -- including town counsel and community groups -- were not
able to find in two years of searching.  No one in the town had any idea
that the documents existed.  The lists helped because they told me what
was in each drawer and cabinet in the vault, and when I looked in, for
instance, the "3rd drawer down, west corner", or "on top of cabinet in
southeast corner", I found the materials exactly where the WPA inventory
said they would be.  I would caution people that if they are fortunate
enough to locate the documents they are looking for, please be careful
to put them back exactly where you found them, so that the rest of us
can locate them when we have a need.  The municipalities will have a
legitimate reason for barring direct access if researchers make a mess
and mix everything up, and they can make us wait for weeks and months
until the records keeper has the time to go searching for the materials
we request.  Further, you should check the public records law at the
secretary of state's office.  Municipalities have the right to charge us
for the time it takes to retrieve the records, or for the personnel time
to supervise and/or monitor us while we research the records.  I can't
imagine, if you are reimbursing the municipality for  having a person do
the research or monitor your research, that there will be a lot of
resistance.  On the other hand, if they are kind enough to do it for
free as a public service, and the public they are trying to serve has a
bad attitude (see #1 and #4, above), then it is more likely than not
that there will be resistance.  Hope this helps!

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