From Tim Hutchinson, Head of University Archives and Special Collections:
Starting today, we have adjusted our hours. The new hours are Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4 pm.
In the spirit of the “University Archives and Special Collections unboxed” theme of this blog, we thought some of you might be interested to hear a bit more about what’s behind the change.
When you visit UASC, in addition to being assisted by a staff member on the reference desk, there is always more going on: sometimes in the reading room, but often behind the scenes. Staff are processing archival collections, digitizing items, preparing exhibitions, and responding to in-depth research requests, to name some of the more prominent activities.
With the previous hours and service model, on any given day, just over half the staff was assigned to the reference desk in some capacity; reference services were available for the whole time staff members were working; and retrieval services were available at all times. You can appreciate that this had an impact on our ability to undertake our full range of functions. Especially since some activities, like processing large archival collections, can be difficult to do on the reference desk.
We are making these changes after several iterations of possible configurations, staff consultations, and compilation of practices at peer institutions. Slightly shorter hours than regular business hours are not uncommon for archives and special collections. Our new hours are comparable to several Canadian universities with archives and special collections.
Retrievals from closed stacks in the Murray Library will be available daily:
- 10 – 10:30 am
- 11 am – noon
- 1 – 2:30 pm
- 3 – 4 pm
The limitations on retrievals reflect a shift from having two people on morning and afternoon shifts, to having two people on daily shifts, so retrievals will not be available during lunches and breaks.
For in-depth research needs, especially use of the archival collection, we continue to encourage you to contact UASC in advance of a visit, either to request material for retrieval or to discuss your research interests. Staff members are in a much better position to assist researchers if they have lead time to pull together potential sources and clarify research interests; and you will be able to make better use of your time at UASC.
Everyone in UASC takes great pride in the reference service we provide. But we also want to make sure we are able to properly undertake our many other activities, which have the ultimate aim of making our collections accessible. We have adjusted our hours to try to achieve a better balance for those activities, but we look forward to continuing to offer the timely service, dedication and expertise available from the UASC team.