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ARCHIVES  April 2006, Week 4

ARCHIVES April 2006, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Flabbergasted by NARA visit today

From:

"Grundset, Eric" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Grundset, Eric

Date:

Thu, 27 Apr 2006 10:46:30 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

I received similar treatment at NARA on two recent visits. My researcher card is the old paper one without the picture. I asked both days I was there how to get a new researcher card, was asked in return whether I was going to look at original records that day, said "no," and was then told I could only get a card on a day that I was going to look at original records.  My first visit two weeks ago was the first time I had been to NARA in a few years, and my visit last week was for a lecture. Both days I had plenty of extra time to spend getting a new card and neither day (the first one being a Saturday) was the place busy at all (in fact, on that Saturday it was empty of researchers). This certainly is not very good public service either.

Eric G. Grundset
Library Director
DAR Library
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
1776 D St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20006-5303
202-879-3313 (phone)
202-879-3227 (fax)
[log in to unmask]


-----Original Message-----
From: Archives & Archivists [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:38 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Flabbergasted by NARA visit today


As you all know, I work as an historian at a federal agency.  I 
occasionally visit NARA to do research for that agency; I also 
sometimes do personal research.  As of today, I hold a researcher card 
for NARA.  That card expires tomorrow (NARA issues picture ID 
researcher cards of one year duration).

I took time away from my job today to go to Archives I to renew my 
researcher card.  Before doing so, I carefully checked NARA's website 
to see what it said anything about procedures for renewing cards.  To 
my astonishment, NARA refused to let me get a new card today.  Three 
people in the research room at Archives I told me that NARA's policy is 
to have researchers renew their cards only on the day they expire or 
after that date.  That is not stated anywhere on NARA's website.  So my 
taking time away from job to go to NARA was futile.  I can't go to NARA 
tomorrow.  Who knows when I'll next get a chance to go there so I'm 
stymied right now.

I'm flabbergasted.  When I asked the research room staff why the 
renewal policy was not spelled out on the agency website, no one could 
tell me.  When I told one research room attendant that I used to work 
at NARA but did not understand this rebuff or why NARA's policy was not 
stated publicly, he asked of my employment, "was that before 9/11."  
I'm afraid I replied with a sigh, "yeah, yeah, 9/11 changed everything. 
  I've heard that before."  While I understand why NARA went to picture 
IDs for researchers after 9/11, I fail to see a connection between 9/11 
and not telling researchers on its website that an attempt to renew one 
day prior to expiration will be rebuffed.

Even the DMV allows you to renew its cards prior to the expiration 
date.  (Virginia states "You may renew your driver's license as early 
as two years prior to the expiration date on your license."  And I 
doubt that the state of Virginia, which suffered horrible losses in the 
attack on the Pentagon, takes 9/11 less seriously than government 
agencies.)

This was my second discouraging contact with NARA this month.  Earlier 
in April, I enquired how I could get copies of the oral history 
interview that NARA staff did with H. R. Haldeman in 1987.  I was told 
I could come to the research room at Archives II and xerox it on the 
self-service copiers.  However, the transcript is over 500 pages long 
(I know that, since I typed it into the computer at NARA in the late 
1980s), so I don't see how I can do that.  The research room attendants 
at Archives II would not allow a single researcher to hog a machine 
while she xeroxes a 500+ page long transcript.  The staff cannot copy 
the transcript for me.  I don't know why a digitized version is not 
available.  So, I'm stymied on that one, too.

If any of outside Washington work with researchers who want to do 
research at NARA, please do warn them that the agency will decline 
their attempts to renew their researcher cards if they only can stop in 
Washington a day before the card expires.  I wasted part of a morning; 
I'd hate to see someone come in from out of town and think they could 
renew a card on a day when they cannot.  NARA needs to spell this out 
on its website, for sure!

Maarja

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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
For the terms of participation, please refer to http://www.archivists.org/listservs/arch_listserv_terms.asp.

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Or to do *anything* (and enjoy doing it!), use the web interface at
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Problems?  Send e-mail to Robert F Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>

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