Nearly all records in an archives are unique and irreplaceable. For this reason, researchers do not have direct access to the records storage areas. Reference archivists will assist you in finding aids and resources.
Usually, the first person you see in the reference room is a reference archivist. Three reference archivists generally work in the reference room, but other duties such as retrieving records and conducting inventories may take them to other parts of the building. For security reasons and to provide research assistance, at least one reference archivist remains in the room during business hours.
Archivists have educational backgrounds in history, government, political science, library and information sciences. Archivists at the Oregon State Archives are required to hold a Master's Degree and certification from the
Academy of Certified Archivists
. Reference archivists are generalists in a range of subject matter (e.g., law, water resources, genealogy). They have a good overview of Oregon government, but also rely on finding aids, indexes, search engines and other resources.
Most visits begin with the reference interview, which is an exchange of information to find out if the Archives has records useful to your research. After submitting the records use form to the reference archivist, you will be asked a few questions so the archivist can learn more about your research.
The reference archivist may refer to specific finding aids, indexes, microforms, or other resources for information. You may also be referred to the Oregon State Archives website or other online repositories. The reference archivist is there to assist you, not to conduct the research. The archivist will not interpret content (e.g., legislative intent, court decisions) or search boxes looking for specific documents. The archivist can help you become familiar with using finding aids, indexes, microform reader/printers, photocopy machines and other tools of the reference room.