Monday, July 7, 2008

Open and Ready to Serve

I wanted to make the announcement that SHI Special Collections Research Center’s move and construction is complete, we have a new Reading Room and more accommodating facility. While we are not a large operation, we invite all those interested to stop by and see our enhanced facility. We especially want to make contact with students, scholars, or anyone interested in using our holdings; we want our materials to be used. For university students we have holdings we feel could easily provide ample source material for thesis and dissertations.

Regarding our new facility, it consists of a more accommodating research area or Reading Room, comprised of a room for patrons to come and conduct research at a workspace and obtain computer access to search our collections. We need this space since we are a closed stacks research center, meaning our materials can’t be checked out because of their rarity and special nature (this is the common practice for archival operations, such as at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections Division). Having this area allows patrons to gain front row access to our special holdings. Additionally, we plan to use the Reading Room to host other small educational events and engage with the researcher community.

As for location, our new Reading Room will remain on the third floor of the Sealaska Building (address: One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 301), but we moved to the east end of the building. We are open from Monday to Friday 8 am to 4:30 (closed during the lunch hour, or if staff are absent). All in all, this is a great improvement through which we hope to better serve the public.

Importantly, funding for this project came through three main organizations. Generous funding and action occurred on the part of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, which funded the purchase of furniture and office supplies as well as the general activities of the department. Next, generous funding for this came through the Sealaska Corporation, which funded the expensive construction work to create the Reading Room and provided IT support for computer setup. Lastly, a substantial portion of this operation occurred because of funding from the Institute of Museum & Library Services, a granting agency which funded the purchase of Reading Room furniture, collection shelving, and computers, and provided financial assistance for the archivist to accomplish the planning and operation of the whole endeavor. All in all, we couldn’t be more pleased and are excited to see the public use our materials.

1 comment:

jonas said...

Great news! I'll be sure to come by and see the new space. I was just listening to a very interesting podcast from the NYPL, a discussion about archives and Derida's work Archive Fever. The topic explores the temporal space of archives, archives as memory, and how visual artists and other artists access then manipulate archival documents in order to create new artwork.