Robin Benson, Clerk and Recorder
Records Management: Non-Stop and Never-Ending…
The key to good records management is the ability to locate and retrieve documents for the public, and you cannot do that if you don’t know what you have. The Clerk and Recorder’s staff has been conducting inventory for the past four years. A very large, inundating task when you consider we have records dating back to the late 1800’s when we were Flathead County. We became Lincoln County in 1909.
Laserfiche Software is now on public computers located in the Clerk and Recorder’s office allowing for key-word searches to be conducted on commissioner minutes, contracts and agreements, road petitions and resolutions to name a few. Key-word searching enables documents to be found within seconds as opposed to the spending days and weeks. combined with keeping your fingers crossed methodology. Road petitions as early as 1893 are now stored in new books as well as in the Laserfiche software system for easy public access. Deeds from 2002 to current are available on the county website at: www.lincolncountymt.us. Click on the Clerk and Recorder’s Page/Document Search.
For every plat map and survey recorded in the Clerk and Recorder’s office, a duplicate copy statutorily is to be stored at an off-site location. I must admit, I was horrified (literally lost sleep), to find hundreds of these duplicate maps laying on the floor in the Annex basement. Although it took a lot of time, those maps are now stored in map cabinets that are labeled for ease of locating and retrieval if necessary.
The Clerk and Recorder’s staff is currently working to create a workflow to have plat and survey maps electronically updated in the tract books (section maps) instead of being hand drawn. It’s a much clearer picture of the section (640 acres per section), showing all property boundaries and allows for improved accuracy when the public is researching properties you may have an interest in purchasing, and aids title companies and realtors in their research. The section maps will show road names, and are color coded for city, state and forest service lands. Lincoln County has Townships 25 through 37, and each Township has 36 sections. Maintaining land records (maps and ownership records) is not only statutorily required, but is a priority in the Clerk and Recorder’s office to do efficiently. I am not sure how long it will take to complete all section maps, but it is a reachable goal.
This column is to inform, educate and engage the public. We are hopeful to pick topics of public interest. Feel free to contact us with any questions and comments.