We were sad to see this posted yesterday by stuffaboutminneapolis, our favorite tumblr:
Yes. I was there a few months ago, I walked in and the librarian asked if I needed help, I said no, I’m just looking around, and she told me this isn’t where you “just look around”, you need to have a reason to come in here. I said “I’ve never been here, not sure what I what to look up”. She said, “that’s what the main library is for, you need to be here for a reason”. So, long story short…I rolled my eyes and left.
Here is the response we just sent to Paul:
We are profoundly sorry you had an unsatisfactory experience in Special Collections. In the last year we have been liberalizing our policies due to changing circumstances in the reading room. We have eliminated the need to register, make an appointment for most materials and have opened up areas of the reading room to browsing (Kittleson WWII, city directories, card catalog, etc.). This is a big culture change from how we have been doing things for the last six years. Due to security and staffing issues when Special Collections re-opened in the new Minneapolis Central Library in 2006, we were required to severely curtail service to walk-in patrons and researchers that wanted to browse the collection.
We now have a different staffing model and our rare 19th Century Collection has been moved out of the reading room into the Special Collections vault where it belongs. Instead of registering patrons, we now only hold Library Card/ID for high school yearbooks and vault materials. We also have moved our heavily used collections into the reading room. If a patron wants something paged from the vault we still ask them to notify us prior to visiting but for the most part we can get a researcher started on their project when they come through our door.
Your experience reminds us we need to more uniformly explain our new policies to all our visitors so we can emphasize the more welcoming environment we are endeavoring to establish.
Our sincerest apologies,