Ask the Archivist

This service is available to provide answers to basic questions regarding archives and special collections. Members of one of the nine library councils in NYS are eligible to use this service. For a list of library councils and links to their websites, visit the About page.

This service is staffed by archivists at several of the Councils of the Empire State Library Network (ESLN).  The staff will provide advice to colleagues on all aspects of archival work, such as processing, preservation, reference, acquisition, appraisal, and digital projects. We invite all your questions on archives and special collections, big or small. Questions can be  submitted through the form below. If the form below does not work for you, click here to open it in a new window.

This is currently a one year pilot project. Some facets of the service may change if ESLN decides to continue the service after the end of the pilot.

Responses will be handled on a first come first serve basis and we cannot currently guarantee a time frame for any response.  Most responses will be handled in 1-2 weeks.

Each participating Council provides, at no cost to members, the Ask the Archivist service. To request the service, members must complete the “Ask the Archivist Request Form.” Members should provide as much information as possible on the issue to ensure the archivist has the information needed to fully answer the member library’s inquiry. Member libraries also have the ability to upload documents that might be helpful in assisting the archivist who is reviewing the issue.

Your inquiry will be reviewed by a Council archivist. If your inquiry is appropriate for the service, then the archivist will contact you in response to your inquiry.  If your question has already been answered by the service or is beyond the scope of the service, we will contact you with suggestions for next steps.

Please note: Members should check the RAQ section first before completing the form. Another member may have already asked the same question!  

  • The “Ask the Archivist” service is funded by each participating Council. 
  • The RAQs on the ESLN website is a compilation of answers collectively paid for by the following councils: CDLC, CLRC, SENYLRC, SCRLC, LILRC, Metro, NNYLN, RRLC, WNYLRC.

“Ask the Archivist ” was developed and piloted by the Empire State Library Network (ESLN) in 2022, and is now a service to members of nine regional library councils in New York. All “Ask the Archivist” answers are the copyright of ESLN. This service, and its content, are in service of the missions of New York State’s libraries and archives. Reproduction of this content, other than for internal use by a council member organization, can only be done with permission. For all other inquiries to reproduce this content, please write to the hosting library council, who will reach out to the author or respond directly. “Ask the Archivist” is a trademark of the Empire State Library Network whose members include the Western New York Library Resources Council, Capital District Library Council, Central New York Library Council, Long Island Library Resources Council, Metropolitan New York Library Resources Council, Northern New York Library Council, Rochester Regional Library Council, South Central Regional Library Council, and Southeastern New York Library Resources Council.