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Bentley Historical Library

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 13 years, 8 months ago

Date of tip: 08 July 2006

Source: Luke Nichter, nluke@bgsu.edu 


Location: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, 1150 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109


How to get there: The easiest way to get there is by car and to park in the free lot adjacent to the Library.  Otherwise, if you are staying in the greater Ann Arbor/University of Michigan area, there is a network of buses that stop near the Library, which is located in the University of Michigan’s North Campus, across from the large Department of Veterans’ Affairs Hospital.  Or, if you are also completing research at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library like I was, it is only about a 50 yard walk north to the Bentley Library. 


Contact Details: Karen Jania, Head of Access and Reference Services, was very helpful (bentley.ref@umich.edu or kljania@umich.edu); Phone: +1.734.764.3482; Fax: +1.734.936.1333


Language: English (but I know German is also spoken by one of the librarians)


Getting started: The Bentley Historical Library contains a significant number of manuscript collections from literary, scholarly, and political figures.  When you arrive, go to the small reception desk just inside the door and to the left.  You will need to present an identification card (e.g. driver’s license or passport) and sign in, and if you parked a car outside in the free lot, they will issue you a free hanging parking pass for the days you need.  Next, they will briefly go over the policies of the reading room, which don’t deviate much from any other library/archive I’ve worked in (regarding what is and is not allowed in the reading room).  They will show you where the lockers are to the left and around the corner from the reception desk, and you can borrow a quarter from the staff if you don’t have one.  Then you will need to complete a registration form which they keep on file for a year in case you return.  Finally, unless you have pre-ordered your boxes (which I recommend via email because they keep some manuscripts in off-site, and can take an hour or two to retrieve), they will show you how to complete a box request.  If you plan to research more than one day, they will hold your boxes on the shelves next to the tables in the reading room for the duration of your stay.  As far as I am aware, no letters of introduction are required. 


Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm (although I would check the latest information on the website)


General working conditions: The reading room contains maybe a dozen large tables with power outlets beneath.  Nearby shelving contains your boxes when you arrive (if you pre-ordered them).  They provide lockers for belongings other than the research essentials, which operate on a quarter, but if you don’t have one, the staff will give you one.


Consultation: As far as I know, there is no limit to the number of boxes you may consult in a day.  The general rule is one box on the table at one time, and one file from that box on the table at any one time.  They will issue a placeholder for your box when your file is on the table. 


Policy on technology: Laptops and digital cameras are permitted.  If you use a digital camera, they will give you a form at registration time on which you are required to record the documents you took pictures of.  I found this very unusual, but the staff said they are required to report how many copies go out of the Library.  However, this is not an exact science, and if you plan to take a lot of photographs, entering an estimate of the number taken per file should satisfy the staff.  You must submit this record to them at the end of the day.


Photocopy policy: Since I was using a digital camera, I did not make photocopies, but I did see other researchers doing so without difficulty.


Particularities: There is not a cafeteria on site, but since the library is located on the University of Michigan North Campus, there are several places within a ten minute walk to go for lunch.  If you have a car, you will find that Ann Arbor has many places to go for food or a snack.  


How to apply for classified files: I am not aware that they maintain any classified files since all of their collections are personal papers, but if you have a related concern, I would inquire via email before your arrival.


Places to Stay: There are many hotels in the Ann Arbor area, which is about 45 minutes’ drive from the Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport (DTW).


Funding: I am not aware that any funding is available. 

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