Reading Room Refresh!

8 Feb

This week marks the re-opening of our Library and Archives reading room after our closure from the last week of 2012 through the month of January 2013. While it wasn’t an easy decision to close our doors during public hours for a few weeks, this rare occasion allowed us to undertake some much- needed, in-depth work to revamp and refresh our Library and Archives reading room.  While we continued to offer active reference assistance to our patrons by email and phone, as well as through research appointments, January saw our staff very busy working on large and complex projects throughout the Library and Archives.

     One change you are sure to notice as soon as you walk through the doors is the bold new paint! You will enter a room that has gone from a cold, institutional grey to a warm and inviting space, vibrant with Sonoran color! These rich tones of terra cotta, mustard yellow and aubergine were chosen to complement our historic 1955 Josias Joesler- designed Sonoran style building and to reflect southern Arizona’s rich cultural heritage. Many thanks are due to Jan, our Building Maintenance Specialist, for doing such a great job with the painting. We love our new space and hope you will too!

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In addition to painting the walls, we worked on multiple projects like shifting of materials on the archives shelves, creating a new and improved reference book section, patching and deep cleaning of the carpets, and installing of new baseboards. We also removed the old, barrier-like reference desks and have begun using some lovely repurposed vintage library tables and a desk which had been hidden away behind the scenes.  We hope you will notice the more welcoming and approachable atmosphere!

Another change we are truly excited about is the new exhibit wall we are creating which will highlight selected images from our collections of over one million historic photographs. We have been working on a special first photo exhibit, so stay tuned! It will be installed in the next few weeks, so look for a more detailed post about it here soon.  We really do have exhibits on our minds as two new small exhibit cases for our reading room are currently being finished by our museum preparator. These exhibit cases will allow us to share a rotating series of intriguing treasures from our extensive manuscript, book and periodical collections with you.

Beyond these noticeable changes are some other efforts, perhaps not so visible at first, which are designed to improve how things function behind the scenes and to make your research visit a success. We have been working to streamline registration and call slips/check-out procedures. Other projects include involving shifting and cataloguing our periodical collection, creating new finding aids and indices for our extensive ephemera, clip book and biographical files collections, creating an improved map encapsulation area, improving environmental monitoring and conditions in the stacks, and  installing more electrical outlets and enabling wifi access for patrons using laptops in our reading room.  We have also been working hard behind the scenes in the stacks to shift collections on the shelves to ensure greater efficiency and access. And of course, we as archivists are always working on the processing of historic manuscript and photograph collections, as well as the creation of exciting new digital collections to share online, so there is truly never a quiet or idle moment here at AHS! We’ll soon be sharing more with you about some recently processed collections and what sorts of materials we are working on at the moment.

 Whew! It has already been a very busy year, but we think we have started it off with very some exciting changes. We hope you will come in and visit us in our refreshed reading room soon–we will be waiting to welcome you and do all we can to support your research visit!

(Photographs for this blog post provided by Alexandria Caster, Archivist and Librarian)

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  1. Announcement: Upcoming Library Closure! | Arizona Historical Society Library & Archives - Tucson - May 16, 2013

    […] library Thursday June 6 and Friday June 7 to do some work on major projects. Remember what happened the last time the library was closed? This time we’re working on some changes behind the scenes, so you won’t be able to […]

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