Cultural Education Committee


Christine W. Ward     




Saturday Hours for the Research Library and Archives



December 21, 2006













Issue for Discussion


          Should the Regents extend public access to the resources of the New York State Research Library and Archives by adding hours on Saturday?


Reason for Consideration(s)


          Review of policy.


Proposed Handling


          The Cultural Education Committee will discuss an overview of the indicators and supportive evidence for instituting Saturday hours for the State Library and Archives. Activities to report will include documented planning, consultations with union representation and human resources, services that will be provided, evaluation strategies, and relationship to the P-16 Regents strategy.


Background Information


          Historically, the library had open hours on evenings and a weekend day. That practice ended with the 1978 move to the Cultural Education Center. At that time the current schedule of hours was established with the focus on meeting the needs of government employees. However, the schedule no longer meets the contemporary needs of government employees, much less the needs of the broader scope of constituents now identified by both institutions as groups that are entitled to use, and would benefit from, their collections and services.


          The New York State Library and the New York State Archives are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. State Library and Archives collections attract significant interest, but also criticism that they are not accessible to the majority of individuals who are unable to visit the Cultural Education Center during the work week. Those who must travel from other parts of the state are especially inconvenienced by lack of weekend access. In today’s highly complex information environment, quality information and assistance from professional librarians and archivists should be available to support the needs of the public and to promote education, economic growth, personal enrichment, and social/historical/cultural perspectives. New York State invests in its cultural institutions to support these purposes, and should facilitate access to their collections.


          The New York State Museum is open on both Saturday and Sunday. Public feedback has indicated that extended hours for the State Library and Archives would be equally attractive. Professionals with specific interests such as genealogy, history, law, high-tech small business, and education have expressed considerable interest in Saturday access to the library and archives. Teachers in particular cannot easily take time off during the school week to explore library and archive resources. Many users have also expressed interest in Saturday programming and training sessions.


          The Regents P-16 strategy envisions collaboration among formal education institutions, libraries, museums, performing arts centers, businesses, and social service agencies. All the Cultural Education institutions that support such collaboration should be accessible to individuals who cannot visit them during normal business hours.


          Staffing levels in the State Library and Archives have been based on the existing schedule of 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday. Extending hours to include 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays would require additional staff. A combination of new staff members and a rotating schedule of existing staff would provide the needed quality assistance for users during the extended hours.


          All procedural and labor-related planning has been conducted. Meetings with State Library and Archives staff, Human Resources, labor-union representatives, and Office of Cultural Education management have been positive and productive. Remaining needs include the identification of resources to hire new staff, currently estimated at $600,000 per year. Publicity, programming, and identification of a specific opening date will depend on resource confirmation.




          Staff recommend that the Regents identify strategies for acquiring the necessary resources to hire additional staff and implement Saturday hours for the State Library and Archives as soon as possible.


Timetable for Implementation


          If resources are identified, adding Saturday hours is feasible as soon as spring 2007.