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Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts (AFS III, Vol. 4)

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  • Written by Cheryl Oestreicher

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  • ONE BOOK, ONE PROFESSION 2021/2023 Selection

    Archival Fundamentals Series III, Volume 4

    “This is one of the greatest pleasures of being an archivist—the opportunity to develop, share, and advance how people can access archives.”


    Access and reference services are central to engaging with historical resources. As more people encounter archives for scholarly and avocational research, as part of creative pursuits, or to exercise their rights as citizens to access records, the possibilities for how collections are used will continue to evolve. Archivists need to be familiar with who their users are, understand why they’re using archival collections, and engage in outreach so that they can provide excellent reference services.

    Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts outlines the various components of:

    • providing physical, intellectual, and virtual access,
    • acquiring reference knowledge and skills,
    • navigating legal regulations and ethics, and
    • designing use policies and effective outreach.

    Cheryl Oestreicher contextualizes how all of these components fit within other archival functions and offers strategies and detailed practices for creating comprehensive reference programs that archivists can adapt for any type of institution.

    Both new and experienced archivists will find Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts a solid foundation on which to add their own ideas for how to bring people into the archives as well as bring archives to the people. Readers are encouraged to examine these concepts and practices in conversation with others and to consider how archivists can continue to advance reference and access.

    Product Details

    Publisher: Society of American Archivists (2020)
    Paperback: 195 pages
    Product Dimension: 7x10 inches
    Weight: 0.633 pounds
    ISBN: 978-1-945246-38-8

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Reference and Access
  • "For students of archival studies, this work is an excellent tool for understanding what reference archivists do, how such departments function, and how they fit within the larger picture of an archival organization. This volume would be particularly helpful as archival course material, as well as for archivists who are new to the reference side of archival work. A great strength of the book is that concepts are presented in a way that encourages readers to apply them to their own organizations."
    —Kayla Scott, American Archivist

    "Oestreicher situates reference and access work as central to the entire archives project, not merely beholden to it. The book’s intended function is that of a manual and, as such, offers little explicit interrogation of archives and archival labor as sites of struggle. However, in the great detail and care with which Oestreicher unravels the specifics of our archival labor one cannot help but find solidarity: this is what my work looks like, too."
    —Leah Richardson, College & Research Libraries

    "In the 15 years since the publication of [the Archival] Fundamental Series II, researchers have (fairly or not) elevated their expectations around the immediacy and extent of access to digital records. Oestreicher states that meeting these expectations, which often removes archivists from reference interactions, requires a new kind of approach to reference services, [one that] is detailed throughout the volume."
    —Rory Grennan, Archival Issues

    Perhaps the most useful part of the book is the appendices, which include sample registration and photocopying forms, a sample archive website and even a sample reference manual outline. . . . The inclusion of these materials provides smaller institutions with convenient and pragmatic direction."
    —Cindy Brightenburg, Journal of Western Archives

    This edition is a necessary update, dealing with reference and access within archives in the age of online users and virtual and digital collections."
    —Catherine Ryan, Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association