Comments ArchiveGrid users send us continue to clarify what unaffiliated scholars, which we identified from a survey this spring as the most prevalent of new archives and special collections researchers, seek. Learning what they seek also sheds light on who they are and what they are like – and improve our system for a wider net of users. So we encourage comments. However, we learn from them that not all visitors to ArchiveGrid know exactly what it’s for, so teaching opportunities about our system abound.
Here some glances at what types of comments this week we received from unaffiliated scholars using ArchiveGrid to locate primary source materials, and how we were able to put on our reference caps and help:
1. “I was thrilled to find a reference to the Coal Run Improvement and Railroad Company.” This user is an author needing this information for a book and was talking about the search result in ArchiveGrid of the William A. Stokes Papers, 1833-1927, a manuscript collection held in the Duke University Libraries. All we needed was to do was point this user to the contact information link found at the bottom of each search result record to Duke’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
2. A user doing family history research into his father’s life asked how to access more information from a WorldCat bibliographic record he discovered of his father’s law partner. “Seymour Krieger was my father’s law partner in Washington DC from the late 40′s through Mr. Krieger’s death…I had always heard it may have been suicide, but that it was not definitely determined his death was a suicide.” We referred this user to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to ask the reference services for help.
3. We got a few other chances to inform our comment-writers – a woman researching a relative, a seeker of Arthur J. Felberbaum materials, and a Civil War diary researcher – of features on our website. My favorite one this week was teaching a user how to use the map on our homepage to locate possible institutions to donate a rare book to, proving the growing diversity of ArchiveGrid users.