Each October the Society of American Archivists promotes American Archives Month, a nationally focused campaign to spotlight archives and archivists around the country. Throughout the month collections in the archives will be featured. First up, is the basic question:
What is an Archives Library?
Unlike lending libraries, an archive facility does not allow materials to be borrowed and taken home. All resources must be used on-site. Most of what is found in the archives collection is unique. To help preserve this uniqueness and make sure the items are available for the next researcher to use, there is tight control over how the items are used and how they are stored. Staff assists patrons in the safe handling and viewing of artifacts and materials and to properly care for the items. This includes wearing gloves for handling photographic materials; use of pencil only to avoid damage caused by inks; and controlled photocopying of fragile items. Through careful handling, nearly everything that is found in the archives collection can safely be examined and used as research materials.
One of the primary ways to preserve artifacts and materials that help to document the Valley’s history is to control the environment in which the items are stored. This is achieved in the archival facility by having storage vaults with humidity and temperature controls and regulated light levels.
MVHS has published works, available in the Reading Room where patrons are encouraged to begin their research. The most popular are city directories, county histories, atlases, and cemetery records. The collection has many other materials including diaries, letters, photographs, yearbooks, scrapbooks, maps, and local government records. There is also information and photographs on many businesses, churches, schools, social clubs, families, ethnic heritages, hospitals, industries, sports and residences.
The archives staff is available to assist researchers, genealogists, students and educators with historical hunts for information. Hours for the reading room are Tuesday-Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The archives are closed on Saturdays during the summer and the month of December. Admission fees help the Historical Society preserve and make available these resources, develop public programming, and support exhibits. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and college students, and $2 for students under 18. Use of the archives is free to Historical Society members.