Please share your “Summer Tips for Visiting Archives” on AHA blog

I was asked to share my thoughts for today’s post on the AHA blog, “Summer Tips for Visiting Archives.” As you might expect, my thoughts were voluminous, but most of my recommendations made it into the post. I hope you’ll add anything that’s missing by posting a comment over on the AHA site. I’m glad to see them sharing this kind of content as well as recognizing that “Archivists are highly trained professionals, not just goody-retrieval machines, and should be seen and treated as partners in your research.”

A Twitter colleague observed that he thought I might get into trouble with the academics for suggesting that an archivist will be more skilled at locating information in his or her own collections than an outside researcher. Time will tell if I get castigated in the comments, but I am willing to defend the professional skills and knowledge of (most of) my colleagues. If a researcher clearly explains what s/he is looking for and the archivist is experienced and knowledgeable about the collections, I’ll give the archivist the advantage.

But, please take a look the post over on the AHA blog and share your advice for researchers there.

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One thought on “Please share your “Summer Tips for Visiting Archives” on AHA blog”

  1. I tried twice to post this to the AHA blog and was unsuccessful, so I’ll post here.
    If the most common mistake is not contacting the reference archivist, the second most common mistake is not having a clear goal in mind at the outset: “Give me everything you have on …” if the surest sign of an unprepared researcher.

    If you’re visiting an archives for the first time, check their website for downloadable researcher forms. If the website doesn’t have them, email the archives and ask for copies. If you can come with forms already filled out, it speeds the registration process along. Same with finding aids – if an archives doesn’t have finding aids online, ask if the archives has any kind of guide or index to the collection you’re seeking that they can email you.

    Keep careful track of your citations – if you don’t note which box or folder something came from, do not expect the archivists to go back and find it for you. It is your responsibility.

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