New Journal Article: “The Special Collections Reading Room: A Study of Culture and Its Impact on the Researcher Experience”
The article linked to below was recently published by RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage.
Gina C. Modero
New-York Historical Society Museum and Library
RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage
Vol 24, No 2 (2023)
This article takes an anthropological approach to the special collections reading room by demonstrating that every reading room has its own culture. Cultural anthropology seeks to study the world and culture through human thought, behavior, and ways of life. By adapting this perspective to the reading room, one can see the forces at play that affect the way patrons and staff navigate the space. The culture of the reading room is shaped by the various systems put in place and can promote, or impede, a productive visit. A disjointed culture comes from the miscommunication between philosophy, policy, physical design, and atmosphere within the reading room. Techniques and policies used in the reading room are influenced by three main factors: access, security, and preservation. Aligning these methodologies with the ethos behind them disseminates important information to patrons; when out of alignment negative culture persists. The author examines the strategies at twelve libraries. The different practices and philosophies are analyzed through participant observation and interviews with librarians and archivists. Librarians can use their cultural authority in the reading room to determine what ethos is emphasized, curate a reading room that will facilitate success, and directly impact user experience by creating a positive cultural environment.
Direct to Full Text Article
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.