30 July 2010

These are my favorite things about research repositories

Wouldn't it be nice if we could take the most useful aspects of each of our favorite research places and combine them so that each place would have all that we love? (Yes, I know about reality, but I can dream, can't I?) My ideal library, archive, and historical society would have:

  • Copy cards so I don't have to carry change
  • Space and plugs for laptop computers -- even next to the microfilm readers
  • Wireless internet accessibility
  • Lockers big enough for our bags that we must lock up
  • My favorite staff people
  • Staff that isn't overworked
  • Finding aids that tell more about individual collections (online and off)
  • Comprehensive online catalog
  • Place to sit and reorganize your work for the day (where you can use the materials you had to put in the locker)
  • Onsite or close by place to eat
  • Record or book retrieval service that is not too slow
  • More materials on open shelves
  • Self-copiers
  • OK to bring in a flat bed scanner and a digital camera
  • Clear guidelines posted to remind us of them
  • Record retrieval forms that don't take so long to fill out
  • Record retrieval request online (how many times do we need to fill our our name and address!)
  • Parking onsite or nearby and well lit
  • Public transportation at the door
  • Self-retrieval microforms
  • Clean and nearby restrooms (not on a different floor of the building)
  • Reasonable security features
I know there must be more features I love and will post those in the future. Do you have any suggestions for the perfect place to research? 


Kerry Scott said...

Enough microfilm readers for everyone--and not the hand-crank kind

Climate control (not too hot, not too cold)

Vending machines. Preferably with Ding Dongs and Diet Coke.

Greta Koehl said...

Yes, yes, yes to this list, and Kerry's addition as well (except I'll take Pepsi and Heath Bars in the vending machines).

Paula Stuart-Warren said...

Well, I have another variation. Diet Pepsi but I guess the Heath Bars will do.

Martin said...

You could have all that if people were willing to fund libraries and depositories. But they want all that and no taxes and haven't yet figured out the two are related.

Some of the things you ask for aren't possible. I wouldn't be able to look at the average person and say: that person knows how to handle an old document. I must assume you don't, so in order to preserve it, someone else must copy it or scan it.

One thing you could add is a universal copy card. I have a dozen in my bag and each goes to a separate repository. It used to be a problem before digital cameras and memory sticks.