Two interesting (and contrasting) blog postings popped into my feed reader today.
The first blog posting is from colleague Andrew Pace (the second in his “sacred cow” series). (Why don’t you have a “cow” category, Andrew? Or a “have a cow” category, for that matter.) For those of you who don’t like clicking links, I’ll summarize: circulation rules are ridiculously complicated, and putting restrictions — on what categories of users can use which materials, when, and for how long — serves no one.
I read this and I thought, well, special collections don’t function that way. Hmmm.
Five minutes later, I read the second blog posting from the Accidental Archivist. Again, to summarize, north American archivists are very welcoming and helpful to users of all stripes. He goes on to contrast North American behavior with European behavior. I have little experience in the European archival theater, so I can’t comment. If you have some observations, please leave him a comment!
I don’t think I have anything smart to say about the differences between libraries and archives in this regard. Maybe it’s that academic libraries’ constituencies are more clearly defined. Special collections (even in an academic context) consider their audience to be the scholars who are interested in the “stuff.” If they have bothered to turn up at your doorstep, they belong.