[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 187 (Wednesday, September 27, 2006)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 56357-56359]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-8338]



36 CFR Parts 1253 and 1280

[Docket NARA-06-0007]
RIN 3095-AB52

Changes in NARA Research Room Hours

AGENCY: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: NARA is further modifying the research room hours at its 
facilities in the Washington, DC, area to retain, on a monthly basis, 
Saturday and some evening hours. We are taking this action in response 
to the many comments received on the interim final rule on this subject 
published in July. As noted in the previous rulemaking, NARA is 
reducing the research room hours as one of several measures the agency 
must take in Fiscal Year 2007 to ensure that our expenditures are in 
line with our expected resources. This regulation will affect 
individuals who use our archival research rooms in the National 
Archives Building and National Archives at College Park facility.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective October 2, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Allard at 301-837-1477 or 
Jennifer Davis Heaps at 301-837-1801 or via fax number 301-837-0319.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NARA published an interim final rule with 
request for comments on July 25, 2006 (71 FR 42058). The interim rule 
specified changes to NARA research room hours at the National Archives 
Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park, 
MD and a revision of the public hours for visiting the National 
Archives Experience and the Rotunda exhibits in the National Archives 
Building. We received more than 530 timely comments. In addition, 
approximately 70 individuals attended a public meeting on the rule on 
August 3, 2006, at which 24 individuals spoke. Virtually all of the 
responsive comments concerned the research room hours in our DC area 
    In this final rule, we are further amending the interim final rule 
to specify that the research room hours at the National Archives 
Building and the National Archives at College Park will include, one 
week a month, evening hours from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday and 
Friday and Saturday hours from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. This rule and the 
other provisions of the interim final rule published at 71 FR 42058 
will go into effect on October 2, 2006.

Summary of Public Comments Received

    The total number of comments received included submissions made 
through http://www.regulations.gov, individual letters that were mailed 
or faxed (or both) to NARA, letters forwarded from Congressional 
offices, and two petitions. Comments received on or before 11:59 p.m. 
on September 8, 2006, and those postmarked on or before September 8, 
were considered timely. Because of the time constraints in revising the 
rule before October 2, 2006, we were not able to consider late 
    Many comments expressed appreciation for the important role NARA 
plays in providing public access to records and offered suggestions for 
ways in which NARA might be able to retain some or all extended hours. 
We address the most frequently stated suggestions in the next sections 
of this

[[Page 56358]]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. A number of comments stated a concern that 
eliminating evening and Saturday hours would severely restrict the 
ability of certain categories of researchers--especially students, 
individuals with full-time jobs, and non-local researchers with limited 
time and budget--to use the Archives at all. In evaluating the various 
suggested alternatives, we tried to consider the needs of all 
researchers, but particularly the needs of those who have limited 
ability to visit the research rooms during weekday hours.

Discussion of Adopted Comments

    A number of commenters recommended offering evening and Saturday 
hours one week each month. Many commenters stated that they come to our 
DC area facilities to do research in short, concentrated visits of less 
than two weeks once or twice a year. Offering monthly extended hours on 
Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday would provide these users an 
additional 15 hours of research time during that week. This alternative 
would also provide some relief to users who cannot come during the 
weekday because it would give them a non-workday block of time each 
month to review original records. We have adopted this alternative in 
the final rule. We recognize that it does not address all of the 
researcher needs identified in the comments, but it provides the best 
available balance between researcher needs and NARA financial 
constraints. For Fiscal Year 2007 (October 1, 2006-September 30, 2007), 
we will hold the extended hours the third Thursday through Saturday of 
the month. This schedule avoids conflict with the Veterans Day holiday 
in November 2006 and other Federal holidays occurring during the first 
and fourth weeks of other months. The schedule of extended hours will 
be published at http://www.archives.gov/research/ and also available in 
the research rooms.

Other Alternatives Proposed in the Comments

    A number of comments argued that NARA should make no changes in the 
research room hours, making reductions in other areas, if necessary. As 
noted in the preamble above, the reduction in the research room hours 
is only one of many areas in which NARA is making adjustments to ensure 
that NARA can continue to fulfill its mission as the nation's 
recordkeeper effectively with the resources that will be available to 
us. We are also taking other measures that are less visible to the 
public, such as instituting a hiring freeze and a staff ``buyout'' 
earlier this fiscal year, additional energy conservation measures, and 
a significant reduction in the agency's FY 2007 travel budget. When we 
issued the interim final rule, we did so because we had determined that 
it is not practicable to achieve all of the savings we need without any 
reduction in research room hours. This situation has not changed.
    Many commenters asked that NARA retain Saturday hours once or twice 
a month. In evaluating the various alternatives, we determined that 
monthly extended hours on two evenings and Saturday would be more cost 
effective and serve more categories of researchers than being open two 
Saturdays per month but no evenings.
    A number of commenters recommended that we close the research rooms 
on one weekday and stay open on Saturdays. While Monday was the day 
most frequently suggested for closing, other days of the week were put 
forth too, including a rotating day schedule that would include 
Saturday. Commenters suggested that this alternative would assist those 
researchers who can only come on Saturdays; it might also assist some 
current evening researchers who are able to come on Saturday instead. 
While a number of institutions follow a Tuesday-Saturday schedule, a 
Tuesday-Saturday or other similar schedule would not provide an 
equivalent amount of savings as the interim rule proposal for a Monday-
Friday schedule because the facilities would have to remain open on 
Mondays for other official business that NARA conducts. Thus, NARA 
would still incur facility and security costs for the buildings on 
Mondays. This alternative also reduces available hours for our large 
number of weekday researchers, including Federal agency researchers.
    Another recommendation was to open late (e.g., 1 p.m.-9 p.m., noon-
8 p.m., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., or 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) some or all weekdays. The 
commenters suggested that this alternative would provide some relief 
for researchers who can only come to the Archives in the evening. 
NARA's review of this alternative found that this would not provide 
significant relief, except to the relatively small number of 
researchers (approximately one to two percent) who only use the 
research rooms in the evening, and might reduce available hours for 
weekday researchers (over half of our current researchers) if they can 
not shift to later hours. The cost for this alternative would also be 
greater than a Monday-Friday schedule because of the need for facility 
and security services during official business hours and additional 
night-differential pay for staff working after 6 p.m.
    Because the number of research visits to the larger research 
complex at the National Archives at College Park (Archives II) is 
nearly double the number of research visits at the National Archives 
Building, some commenters suggested implementing the Monday-Friday 9 
a.m.-5 p.m. schedule at the National Archives Building and retaining 
the existing extended hours (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday evenings and 
Saturday every week) at Archives II. Not only is the cost of this 
alternative significantly more than other alternatives considered; the 
large number of genealogical researchers who do research at the 
National Archives Building would gain no relief.
    Two other alternatives were suggested by several commenters: to use 
unpaid volunteers or interns or to charge a user fee to all or non-U.S. 
researchers. Neither alternative is viable. NARA has a large cadre of 
dedicated volunteers who greatly assist NARA in carrying out its 
mission. Volunteer opportunities are described on our Web site at 
http://www.archives.gov/careers/ volunteering/. Volunteers, however, 
cannot replace NARA staff or security guards in providing oversight of 
our research rooms and use of original records. NARA does not have 
statutory authority to charge user fees for access to our research 

Other Comments Relating to Research Room Hours

    As part of many comments on the change in hours, concerns were 
expressed with NARA's schedule for ``pulling'' (i.e., retrieving from 
the stacks) original records under the new hours and delays in entering 
the National Archives Building at the start of the research day because 
of security procedures. Currently, with the research room opening at 
8:45 a.m., the first pull of the day, when researchers must submit 
their reference requests for original records, takes place at 9:30 a.m. 
Commenters were concerned that a 9 a.m. research room opening would not 
allow sufficient time to prepare the reference request before the first 
pull time. Beginning October 2, we are adjusting the pull times to 10 
and 11 a.m., and 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on the days that the research 
complex closes at 5 p.m.; an additional late day pull will be provided 
when we are open in the evening. Changing the morning pulls to 10 and 
11 instead of 9:30 and 10:30 allows more time for researchers to submit 
their requests for the first pulls of the day. The current 3:30 pull 
time will be dropped because records pulled

[[Page 56359]]

at 3:30 are scheduled to arrive by 4:30, allowing only 15 minutes for 
review before records are returned before closing time. Our records 
retrieval practices will enable us to accommodate requests for records 
submitted at any time prior to the last pull time of the day.
    Another concern was expressed with the availability of NARA staff 
for researcher consultation. Our experience with the Researcher 
Assistance Room in the National Archives Building has shown that the 
most efficient and researcher-friendly reference consultation is 
provided in one room. Having all finding aids and research assistance 
staff in one location enables us to focus our resources so we can 
provide better service to researchers and, at the same time, achieve 
efficiencies. Staff assigned to a single research consultation room 
provide excellent reference service because they have all finding aids 
available in the room and they have no other responsibility to distract 
them from helping researchers while they are assigned to the room. 
Researchers benefit significantly from having this focused service in 
one location. We will modify the Research Assistance Area in Room 2000 
in the College Park facility so that we can provide the same efficient 
service that we provide in the National Archives Building.
    Finally, at the public meeting, several commenters expressed 
concern that the security procedures for entering the National Archives 
Building were more cumbersome and required more time than our 
procedures at College Park, also affecting the amount of time 
researchers could spend in the research rooms. Immediately following 
the meeting, NARA instituted the same inspection procedures used at 
College Park in the National Archives Building.
    This rule is not a significant regulatory action for the purposes 
of Executive Order 12866 and has not been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, I 
certify that this rule will not have a significant impact on a 
substantial number of small entities because it affects individual 
researchers. This regulation does not have any federalism implications.

List of Subjects

36 CFR Part 1253

    Archives and records.

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the interim rule published 
on July 25, 2006 (71 FR 42058) amending 36 CFR parts 1253 and 1280 is 
confirmed as final with the following changes:


1. The authority citation for part 1253 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 44 U.S.C. 2104(a).

2. Amend Sec.  1253.1 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:

Sec.  1253.1  National Archives Building.

    (a) The National Archives Building is located at 700 Pennsylvania 
Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20408. Business hours are 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays when the building 
is closed. Hours for the Research Center and the Central Research room 
    (1) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays, and
    (2) Once monthly, from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday and Friday 
and from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday. Information on these 
extended hours is available at http://www.archives.gov/research/.
    (b) * * *
    (c) * * *

3. Amend Sec.  1253.2 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:

Sec.  1253.2  National Archives at College Park.

* * * * *
    (b) Research complex hours are:
    (1) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays, and
    (2) Once monthly, from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday and Friday 
and from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday. Information on these 
extended hours is available at http://www.archives.gov/research/.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 25, 2006.
Allen Weinstein,
Archivist of the United States.
[FR Doc. 06-8338 Filed 9-25-06; 2:07 pm]