Brookhaven, NY — April, 2012 — There was a time in Brookhaven, New York’s past when the 300 to 500 citizens requesting Building Department records each week had to wait for a staffer to drive 8 miles to the town’s Records Center, find the files among thousands of others, sign the documents out, bring them back to town hall to be photocopied and delivered a week later to a customer none too happy about having to make two trips to Town Hall. What a difference a year can make.
“I received the best news the other day,” said Brookhaven Deputy Clerk Donna Lent. “The Building Department notified me that they were able to complete 122 record requests in one day right from their computers without requesting one file from the Records Center!”
What took place in the past year to catapult Brookhaven’s Building Department out of the paper age and into the computer age? It started with an undertaking by Town Clerk, Patricia Eddington, to digitize the entire town archive, an effort that potentially would involve millions of dollars and millions of documents dating back centuries to the town’s founding. Town Clerk Eddington assigned her Chief Deputy, Donna Lent, to oversee the project.
Lent began attending document management workshops provided by the town’s Code Book publisher, Rochester, NY-based General Code, the company that, a few years earlier installed Brookhaven’s Laserfiche® document management system. Those workshops got Lent thinking Brookhaven could do a lot more with its Laserfiche system, and General Code staff soon went to work matching Brookhaven’s needs and ambitions with the suitable software and hardware to get the job done.
“It was clear that they were not using Laserfiche to its fullest potential,” said General Code Marketing Executive Director, Tony Lucido. “They needed a solution that would provide easy access to not only archived records, but active records as well.”
So Brookhaven upgraded to the most recent version of Laserfiche and increased the number of computers that can use it from 11 to 200. The Building Department had the most significant document bottleneck so those records were scanned first. Building Department staff were trained and turned into “believers” in what the software could do for them, and now Brookhaven citizens are reaping the benefits as well. Eventually, Eddington hopes to have all 30 departments in Town Hall, and their customers, enjoying the same conveniences as the Building Department. And, they will all be using the software to its fullest potential, Lent said.
When documents are accessed, who accesses them, and where is automatically recorded by the new system. Those records which the town doesn’t need any more are automatically flagged for appropriate attention. Brookhaven residents will have online access to some of the same databases that town employees use, and Brookhaven history buffs can look up documents dating back to the town’s founding right from their home computers.
“Research time will be cut drastically both for town staff and residents looking for town records,” Eddington said. “We are able to serve the public faster, resulting in greater volume, shorter lines and less stress on our employees and citizens. At the end of the day, revenue increases along with the level of confidence from taxpayers.”