Mary Jo Pugh's Providing Reference Services for Archives and Manuscripts is a major revision of her 1992 work by the same title. Pugh begins this work by noting that archives and reference services in archives are changing at a substantial rate because of communications changes that are occurring in the world. Electronic formats, the expectation for instant information, and increased computing power all raise the bar for archivists. Pugh notes that all of these things necessitate the reworking of her earlier book.
Pugh notes that a shift in the archival profession has taken place in which archivists are now active promoters of archives rather than just passive collectors. She points out that providing access has three elements: intellectual, physical, and legal. Likewise, reference services involve intellectual, human, and administrative elements that include research, personal relations, promotion of materials, and ethics.
Pugh describes Schellenberg's distinctions in primary and secondary uses and evidential, informational, and intrinsic value, noting that Schellenberg overstated the distinction between records and archives by overemphasizing the exhaustion of primary values that he believed characterized archives. She says that archivists should strive to understand the various types of users of archival materials in order to help them find what they need. She suggests that besides just contemplating the needs of their various types of users, archivists should also try to understand how exactly most users seek to obtain information. In short, today, many researchers look for the simplest way they can find the information they need. Now, more than ever, the reference role of the archivist comes into play.
The reference role of the archivist comes into play through the archivist providing intellectual access to collections through the use of finding aids and careful processing. Being careful to do these well provides a context for understanding records. Pugh's discussion of provenance and the levels of arrangement are probably some the clearest that I have seen. The reference role of the archivist also comes into play through the reference interview process. Archivists need to become proficient in ferreting out the types of informations that their patrons need through using a careful interview process. They must also become more proficient in using the various types of electronic communication to provide reference services that will meet the needs of remote patrons. Additionally, they should develop guidelines for how archivists deal with patrons of all types.
Archivists strive to provide access to materials, but doing so is not attended without difficulties. Archivists have to balance issues of privacy, confidentiality, right to know, and equality of access on a daily basis. Archival policies should be developed that seek to create as much access as possible in as even and equal a manner as possible while abiding by the law. Pugh not only discusses access policies, but she also discusses how exactly to offer physical access to the materials. She discusses issues such as preservation, security, and administration of a research room. Likewise, she provides information about copyright, microfilm, loaning materials, and setting policies for photocopying. Finally, Pugh discusses the different models of reference services available to archives, noting that they can be arranged as a curatorial organization (processing and specialized reference), a rotating organization (everyone does reference), or a functional organization (reference is separate from processing). She then describes how archivists can measure the perfomance of reference services within their organizations. Pugh concludes the work with a detailed bibliographic essay that touches on nearly every of archival science.