Lately we’ve been getting a lot of requests in pairs. Not the same queries, just queries for the same collection. Today we had two email requests regarding the Michael Philip collection from people who had spotted the portion of the exhibit about the filming of the movie Eskimo on our site. (Mental note: when time allows, take a look at that exhibit and think about putting collection citations on each of the photographs online: our users are not making the connect to the Philip collection from the exhibit images.)
Friday we had two separate requests for a 33 1/3 rpm record we have of the sounds of the ’64 earthquake (a bunch of other libraries and archives have it too: it was fairly widely distributed.) And, annoyingly enough for our users, our turntable is down and we’re having some difficulties fixing it. (Mental note: next time make sure any equipment purchased has either really good troubleshooting directions or is really obvious to fix.) That isn’t so bad, as it turns out we were planning on picking up a USB turntable anyhow so that just moved up our timeframe on the purchase a little. Now we just have to install it and make our researchers happy again.
And it’s not just requests. It seems like lately every time one of us picks a collection to update the finding aid, we’ll get a request for that collection within the week. The finding aid to Genie Chance’s papers has been my latest standardization project, we received a request today. For the very box with which I was working! (that’s the old version of the FA linked there, by the way. It’ll be prettier soon.) Last week I was working on converting the finding aid for the Oliver Edwards collection, bingo, request for the collection this week (that is the updated version for that FA). I’m not sure that the robot that indexes our site for keyword searching has even had a chance to reset itself on this collection yet!
So what’s the point? Not sure I have one. It just seems odd, somehow, when mostly our collections don’t get frequent repetitive use. Perhaps in the case of the ones we’re converting, it just proves that we’re prescient somehow, and just know what collections people will want to use sooner rather than later. (Mental note: okay, that’s a really loopy theory. More sleep might be in order.) It certainly makes it easier to retrieve and reshelve the materials: the more we have to pull a collection, the more likely we are to learn its location! Or maybe it’s just some sort of cosmic archival patterning at work–sooner or later even random things must appear patterned, right?
So anyway, if you make a request and the reference archivist on duty gets a knowing look, it’s just this repetitive thing at work. No doubt this will pass soon. And we’ll be back to having to look up every single collection in the shelf list to find locations again.