New technology, old problem: Oxford registry of deeds addresses preservation in the digital age
by Christopher Crosby, Staff Writer Sun Journal Aug. 25, 2014
PARIS — The Oxford County Registry of Deeds stands mostly empty, but not idle.
The metal shelves containing the recorded history of land ownership over the past 209 years are unattended; the climate-controlled room is occupied by only the register and a small staff. But across the country — and maybe the world — unseen hands are perusing the county’s deeds online.
The digitalization and online accessibility of the county’s documents has signaled a physical exodus from the registry’s room, nestled sleepily behind a thick wooden door in the county courthouse on Western Avenue.
|Register of Deeds Patricia Shearman, right, opens a historic map-book containing hand-drawn and colored deeds dating back to the founding of the county in 1805.
“This place used to be a bustling metropolis, with standing-room only,” said county Register of Deeds Patricia Shearman.
Computers and other devices have changed how users access the registry; anyone with an Internet connection can access records from a neon-lit screen, which cuts down on the time and expense of traveling from far-flung corners of the county to Paris.
But as the race to scan documents tries to meet demand, a reciprocal effect is taking place — the county stopped printing new paper deed books in 2006, and with that move, a new problem has arisen.
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