In response to user requests, for the month of November, 2010, the National Archives at College Park, MD (Archives II) will undertake a pilot program to provide archival records retrieval service for textual records on Saturdays.
This pull service is only for records that have designated retrieval information, do not require screening for personal
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privacy and other sensitive information, and are housed in open, unclassified stack space. This pilot program is for the Textual Research Room at Archives II only.
Records will be retrieved for use in the Textual Research Room at the following “pull” times: 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
One thought on “NARA Announces Pilot Program to Assist Researchers on Weekends”
Finally, NARA is beginning to show signs of becoming a customer service oriented agency.
Any archives administrator wanting to know why its reading rooms are practically empty on Saturdays would have reviewed its procedures long before now. For researchers visiting from a distance, from outside the Washington area, NARA’s restrictive records pull procedures make no sense whatsoever.
I recently traveled to Washington to spend a Saturday to do research at NARA. I arrived on Thursday evening, checked into a hotel, and spent all day Friday reviewing finding aids to filling out pull slips for records that I would need on Saturday.
The last pull for Saturday research was 3:30 on Friday.
Despite instructions from the staff that I turn in on Friday all the pull slips for records that I would need on Saturday, only two were pulled. The rest were all returned, with a note attached, “Maximum number of trucks already charged out.”
Although NARA was open until 9 PM Friday, by 4:30 I had finished researching the few records they had pulled, and there would not be any more record pulls until Monday morning.
With no more records available to research, by 4:30 Friday there was nothing more that I could do but return home two days early. The entire trip was wasted, and all because of NARA’s senseless policy of timed records pulls. And never mind that for most of the time between the four pull times, those employees who pull records obviously had nothing to do.
If I ran my archives the way the NARA operates its reading rooms, I would have been fired a long time ago.
If NARA would get rid of pull times altogether, and put service ahead of senseless bureacracy, its one-time only customers would become repeat customers. And its reading rooms would not be practically empty on Saturdays, as they are now.
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