When you think of archives, what is it that comes to mind? A quiet place with dusty, old books that only gets visitors because people wander in lost off the street? If that is what you think, you clearly were not one of the over 200 visitors to the MSU Archives & Historical Collections in the month of November. That number makes November our busiest month on record and December is starting out just as busy. As the semester draws to a close and students hurriedly work on their papers, the archives has been a filled to the brim, and then some, with researchers working on projects. Our staff have compiled some suggestions to help researchers get the most out of their experience using an archive.
- Students don’t like getting up early. I’m sure this bit of wisdom is not shocking to anyone who has been on a college campus before. In terms of helping your visit to the archives, it means that mornings are typically pretty quiet. There are lots of places to sit and you aren’t competing with 20 other people for one of our chairs. We open at 8:30am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Start early in the morning!
- Have a topic in mind before you come in. Our staff like to help people find resources, but we don’t like suggesting topics to people. We don’t know your likes and dislikes. We do know our collections, so if you come in with even a broad topic that helps us more than just asking, “What have you got?” We do try to put information on the Internet so people can get suggestions before they arrive. You can search the library catalog for collections in the archives. (Hint: limit your location to just the University Archives & Historical Collections and try different keywords.) You can also try browsing our collection guides.
- Call ahead. This is by no means required, but if you call (517-355-2330) or email (email@example.com) ahead of time to let us know when you will be visiting and what you want to see, we can have it waiting for you when you arrive. This saves a little bit of waiting for staff to bring collections to you and lets you spend all of your time doing research. However, if you can’t make it when you said you would, please call and let us know, otherwise, we’ll reshelve your material and you will have t wait for us to pull it again.
Thanks for all your patience! We hope to see you soon.