This paper describes, the results of a brief survey of archivists working for fifty five small archives nationwide. The purpose the survey was to examine to what extent smaller archival institutions are applying remote reference services, what type of remote services are being utilized and to identify common challenges faced by small archival institutions with different functions and audiences. It also and examine common challenges faced in the implementation of digitization efforts to support these reference services. The survey was posted via the Society of American Archivists Lone Arrangers Forum, and cross-posted it on the Reference, Access, and Outreach Forum. The makeup of the participants varied, working in museum archives; religious archives; university archives; and local historical societies. After analysis, challenges in providing remote reference services such as time management and cost are common across different types of small archival institutions, and across different reference strategies. These same challenges also appear in relation to small archival institutions’ efforts to implement online access to collections as a tool for unmediated reference. The survey provided a window into challenges faced by archivists at small institutions, particularly in terms of time and cost, as they attempt to adapt their reference services to meet user preferences.
Aaron Preston has served as the principal archivist at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid, Oklahoma, for ten years. He received his master’s degree in library science and archives administration from San José State University and previously earned both an MA in education and a BA in history from Michigan State University. Prior to working for the Oklahoma Historical Society, Preston worked for ten years as an educator at the State of Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing, Michigan, and as a classroom educator.
Preston, Aaron T.
"Challenges in Providing Reference Services in Small Archival Institutions,"
Journal of Western Archives: Vol. 11:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol11/iss1/9