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Reading Town Hall Records Go Online, Police, Fire and Schools to Follow

The town of Reading has been putting all of their records online for easy access since 2007, and now other town departments are working toward the same goal.

To make it easier to search and according to Boston.com, "embarking on a technological overhaul of its Town Hall," Reading is putting records online, and have been since 2007. The police and fire departments recently completed training to do the same, and now the School Department and RMLD are getting trained as well.

Reading has thousands of records, some only accessible if one uses a six-foot ladder, and soon they will all be converted to a virtual cloud so anyone can access them. The police and fire departments are already trained and started to convert their files as well, Town Clerk Laura Gemme said.

Gemme holds training sessions every month for town employees, and the School Department and RMLD are in the process of being trained now. 

"Eventually, the whole town will be doing it," Gemme said of transferring records to electronic files.

Town Hall still has some records left, and converting them will be an ongoing project for the next couple of years, according to Gemme. The project is worth the time, given that searching through paper records was a task that could take days or even weeks.

“People used to ask for records and if I didn’t have them, I had to hunt them down,” said Gemme in the Boston.com article. “I don’t have to do that now, and it’s indescribable how much time that saves.”

The software the town is using, Laserfiche, is used by federal, state and local government agencies and Fortune 1000 companies, a Boston.com article said. The software will make searching through records easier than ever before.

“The system is very basic and intuitive,” said Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner on Boston.com. “Even I can search it with good results — not as fast as other employees who use it a lot, but much faster than searching file cabinets.”

Once the transfer is complete, and all Town Hall records are transferred, if a resident wanted to access a document, minutes from a school committee meeting for example, one would be able to find them right on the town's website. The website is currently being redesigned for easier use and should be ready by January 1, at the latest, Gemme said.

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