• Due to renovations to our vault, access to our collections is limited until further notice. Please contact us for more information.

FAQs: Distance and research

Is coming on-site to view collection materials a challenge for you? Maybe you live somewhere else and don’t have a visit to beautiful Anchorage in the offing, or perhaps you live in Anchorage but our access hours don’t mesh well with when you can do research. Or perhaps you need to plan a trip to come look at materials and need planning advice. So what do you do?

First, you can always ask! We’re happy to talk with you and provide advice. We can even set up a Zoom consultation if you’d like to do this face to face, or you can call us at 907-786-1849 or email us through the contact us link on this page. We also have a great research guide with a lot of information in it, so you should definitely consult that, too.

So here’s some quick pointers to making the most of the situation:

Can’t make it in at all:

We need to start out by saying that we can’t do your research for you. If you’ve narrowed what you want to look at to a relatively small section of a collection (maybe a folder or two) and you have something very specific you’re seeking, we can spend up to 15 minutes to flip through it and see if what you’re looking for is there. It depends on the size of the folder and the complexity of the question/answer though! If you’re wondering how you might narrow down your request that much, the search box on every page on our website searches our available collection description. We have a handy guide to doing research with us that includes hints and tips on searching our website for collection descriptions, so be sure to check that guide too. If that’s not really getting you what you want, please do contact us and we’ll be happy to walk through the search process for you to see if we can offer any additional insight into research strategies.

If you end up identifying  a small amount of material that we may be able to review in 15 minutes or less, we can try that. If it’s little bit more than that or if your research question is nuanced or complex, we could set up a Zoom consultation and put a camera on some folders so you can get a glimpse of what is in a few folders or boxes. This probably isn’t going to give you a good enough look to actually read through much text, but it may be enough to give you an idea if it relates. From there we can talk about copy costs, or we can suggest some proxy researchers you might want to hire, or other options. Our appointment calendar doesn’t really apply to virtual appointments, but generally these are going to be available weekdays between 9 and 5 pm AST/ADT.

Could make it in, but our available hours don’t work:

We have some flexibility in our posted calendar. But you’ll see there’s not any evening or weekend availability listed. That doesn’t mean we’re 100% unavailable on weekends or evenings, it’s just that we have a lot more to figure out in order to be able to accommodate appointments during those hours so we try not to advertise it, since we don’t want to disappoint people if we have to say no. Since 2019, due to a hiring freeze for our department, there’s only two archivists here. And we both need to be in office for any on-site research appointments. Which means that if we need to work an evening or weekend shift, we have to rearrange our schedules elsewhere in the week to take the equivalent time off. That can often be a challenge for us, but we will try. Just please be aware that we may need to schedule such appointments well in advance, we may have to say no to specific dates depending on what we have going on in our professional and personal lives, and sometimes the Library’s hours may also affect the times we can offer to researchers.

Have to arrange travel to visit:

It’s incredibly important to start this conversation with us well in advance of your intended visit, especially if you’re going to be doing things like paying for airfare or booking hotels in order to come do research with us. Generally our appointment calendar will show appointments for a month or two in advance, but if you’re planning travel, you might want to contact us before that. Even if the calendar says the appointment schedule is not yet available, we can work with you to get things scheduled in for the time you want to be here. Also if you’re looking at the calendar and it lists availability for the time you intend to be here, you should know that the available times are not guaranteed to stay on that calendar. It can change quite dramatically! Sometimes we end up with last minute meetings, or we may have to take time off for personal reasons that we aren’t able to plan in advance. And we also have limited capacity for how many researchers can be here to work in our space so if we get a bunch of requests for the same time slot, we may actually fill up in advance and have to take that time off the availability calendar.

If we have existing appointments during a time slot, we’re generally going to be open for walk-ins during those pre-scheduled appointments. But if we get many requests for research appointments that are at the same time, we may be at capacity and won’t have space for walk-ins.

All that’s a long way of saying: contact us and book those appointments early, and do it before you’ve purchased your airline tickets and booked your hotel. We will need to set up specific dates and times and if they are booked early, we will do everything we can to avoid those times when we schedule other meetings or personal trips or days off. Or we may be able to find back-up folks from elsewhere in the Library for very short appointments, but we need lots of lead time to do that, since all the other Library departments are very busy and mostly understaffed too.


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