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ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES  April 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES April 2006, Week 3

Subject:

Re: Policies for Reading Room Use?

From:

Carole Prietto <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 18 Apr 2006 12:49:01 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

> Does anyone out there have any policies regarding the use of their
> archives' reading room or research area that they would be willing to
> share?  Our Reading Room is being increasingly used for other
> departments' staff meetings, retreats, poetry readings, meals (!),
> you name it. We are trying to rein this in a bit for a variety of
> reasons (can you say "no food in the archives"?), but need to
> present the powers that be (some of whom are the culprits in
> this case) with our reasoning and an idea of what
> other institutions do would help.

If the powers that be are part of the problem you may not ever be able to
stop the non-archival use entirely but you might be able to, as you say,
rein it in.

Hopefully, too, you can re-focus the use a little. To some degree the
problem you're facing is inevitable - special collections spaces are often
made to look nice for the specific purpose of giving the library a
showplace in which to house special events. That just comes with the
territory. It would be one thing if your Reading Room were being usurped
for library development events, exhibit openings and the like - events for
which the venue is part of the attraction and it serves the larger goals
of the library (and make your archives look good in the process). But
department meetings that have nothing to do with archives or special
collections, poetry readings, and meals? Surely other spaces exist for
those things. That, to me, has clearly crossed a line.

You need to state as emphatically as you can that the purpose of your
reading room is to serve your researchers. It's not a lunch room, not a
conference center, not an auditorium, not a retreat space. Back that up
with hard numbers. How many readers do you serve in a year? Have these
other uses been a disruption to readers? How many times and how many
readers affected?  Has it impacted your ability to have faculty bring
their classes in? If so, how many times, which faculty, how many students?
If the faculty have been affected, can you enlist their support? If you
can, milk it for all it's worth. The library brass may have more power
than you do, but even they don't want to get the faculty angry at them.

Not an easy problem and one you may not ever completely solve.
Good luck!

Carole Prietto
Daughters of Charity Westral Province
(formerly Washington University, where the spec. staff was very efficient
at transforming the Reading Room at a moment's notice)
St. Louis, Missouri

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