On July 12, the National Coalition for History (NCH) sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero opposing the upcoming elimination of Saturday research hours at the main Archives building in Washington and Archives II in College Park, Maryland beginning July 22.
NARA announced the new schedule on its social media platforms last week however they did not issue a press release with the details about the plan until July 11, a little more than a week before the changes are to go in effect. NARA at the same time announced it is extending weekday research hours by one hour at the two facilities and adding an additional pull time. Beginning Monday, July 24, new operating hours will be 8:45 a.m.–5:45 p.m.
NCH’s letter asserts that extending weekday hours does not make up for the elimination of a weekend day. One of NARA’s rationales provided for eliminating these Saturday hours is that usage has been declining over recent years. While that may be the case, the historians, researchers, students, genealogists and the general public who avail themselves of these hours likely do so because they are juggling other commitments such as a full-time job, school or family. NCH argued one of the unintended consequences of this proposal may be a disproportionate impact on those without the ability or resources to devote themselves to full-time research. At a time when life-long learning is more important than ever, NCH feels the nation’s premier historical research facility should not be limiting access to its records. In addition, many often plan trips to Washington to do concentrated research over a limited amount of time and they will be detrimentally impacted as well.