Location of archives

Dear STAMAsters:

Some thoughts on the issues forwarded by Gavan:

a) "Archivists and records..remain in one place" - I agree.  As a 
researcher I've encountered records stored offsite due to lack of 
onsite storage space, and it is frustrating - I think for both the 
user and the archives public service staff.  Having as many records 
as possible in the same place as the research room and staff would 
also work better if there are staff reductions, e.g. if you have to 
lay off the van driver who retrieved the offsite materials.

b) "Archives should not be moved into libraries..."  Some very basic 
underlying principles are the same with archives and libraries - 
acquisition and preservation of materials and making them 
intellectually and physically accessible to users.  There are 
definite differences, to be sure, but in many, many instances there 
are great opportunities for the two collections to complement and 
strengthen each other.  I've worked in a public library which has a 
local history and genealogy collection/archives/manuscripts, in a 
college library which includes an archives/special collections, and 
now work in a geologic archive which is part of an earth science 
library.  In all these instances, I believe the collections are 
complementary.  The user can consult various published materials in 
the "regular" libraries, and find circulating copies of many 
published items which are also in the special collections.  The 
archive/special collections provide the manuscript/archive/rare 
books/noncirculating copies of books, maps, etc. which complement and 
enhance the library collections.  While there are sometimes clientele 
specific to the library or archives, having each collection readily 
accessible for all clientele can only be a positive thing.  In 
addition, being near/with the library provides access to a variety of 
research materials for use by archives staff in research related to 
processing collections, and in support of other activities; such 
items are likewise available to archives researchers.  Here I'm 
thinking of things such as long runs of standard biographical 
resources, encyclopedias, industrial directories, and other kinds 
of things an archive probably wouldn't normally buy for its inhouse 
reference collection.

b) "Separating the Archivists and records can only lead to a 
decrease..."   YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

c) "...therefore Archives should not be housed within libraries" - 
flawed logic, see above.  
"..valid operational reasons..." - so vague you could drive a truck 
through the holes.  Seems to me that specific situations apply here, 
rather than generalized rules.  For example, if a library and 
archives are in two places, and the library is already hurting for 
space, both collections would be hurt if the archives was forced to 
move into library space.  If a new building is in the future, you 
could very seriously consider having both collections in the same 
building and should be able to accomodate the physical requirements of 
each.  If someone wants to move an archives out of a current setting 
within a library - why?  Who would benefit and who would suffer?

If it were the full moon and high tide, I would be tempted to 
speculate that the issues forwarded by Gavan sound like salvos in a 
battle between some librarians and archivists.  But it's not, so I wont :)  .

"Round up the usual disclaimers..."

Carol Edwards, Head
U.S. Geological Survey Field Records Library
MS 914, Box 25046, Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046 USA
phone:  1 303 236-1005
fax:    1 303 236-0015