The town of Agawam is in the early stages of building a robust online document repository that will increase public access to municipal records and documents.

“It’s going to make it much easier for people to access what they need,” said Mayor William Sapelli. “We do get a lot of requests, and we hope this will help with the demand on staff time.”

Meeting minutes and agendas are already available on Agawam’s website, but IT Director Jeffrey Hurlbert said the new records project will expand the library with records such as maps, planning documents and more.

Requests for documents not available online place demands on municipal staff time and cause delays for requesters in the delivery of documents.

“If we can preemptively provide documents that are frequently requested, everyone wins,” he said.

A $33,000 Community Compact Information Technology grant from the state will cover the cost of licensing the required LaserFiche software, called The Avante Public Portal, as well as the cost of the scanning the initial volume of documents.

“This is a more dynamic vehicle that is searchable,” Hurlbert said. “As departments add to the repository, those documents that are deemed accessible to the public are available immediately.”

The repository, which will consist of current as well as historical documents, will be searchable by keyword, allowing users to search the entire catalogue by an address or resolution number, for example. Hurlbert said this is critical to having an effective public portal.

“The administration is committed to a continuous improvement of transparency,” Hurlbert said. “Providing a library to the public can only improve that.”

The town plans to seed the repository with a batch of documents that will be curated by the mayor and department heads in order to create as rich a catalogue as possible, Hurlbert said. Documents will be added regularly as they become available.

The town hopes to have the system in place by early spring.

Written by