The mystery of the week is how I forgot how cold archives can get. I must block it out of my memory between visits. Even when I wear a jacket, I'm sore by the end of the day simply from shivering. Then, I get into my oven of a car that has been sitting in the sun all day and turn on the heater, hoping to thaw out.
I've also noticed that most archives have very very bad spaces for research. I don't mean the archive itself, but the actual space for the researcher. Many are a hold over from the days before computers, and replacing them would probably be an unnecessary expense when there are HVACs to replace and maintain, and collections to keep.
Still, I'd like to design a research desk that is much like an old secretary's desk. It would be shaped like an L -- or even a V. One arm of the L or V would be slightly lower than the other, at a level more conducive to typing. The other arm could be tilted up slightly to raise one end of the documents. That way, the researcher could transcribe and take notes without contorting her spine and arms into unnatural and inefficient positions.
All archives should have free internet access. I love when they do. You can look up little things like locations or names right there and makes the research so much more effective.
While we're at it, I wish hotels had tables sort of like those in hospitals, the kind that slide over the bed at a reasonable height. I tend to sit in bed and eat or work on the computer or both -- with HBO on, of course, because I can! -- and a table like that would be convenient.
For some bizarre reason that has origins in a research trip in Maryland and Massachusetts, I get a craving for Ben & Jerry's Low Fat Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt. I don't crave it at any other time but in cheap hotels, usually on research trips. The same with cheap Chinese food -- that one I blame on a restaurant next to the Days Inn in Danvers, Massachusetts -- and Subway or Arby's -- those go back to a Knights Inn in North Charleston, South Carolina. I only want these things in cheap hotels on research trips.
Generally, I tend not to want to end my research trips, so the oddest thing about these most recent research trips is that, no matter how great they are, no matter how productive or how much like a grown-up historian I feel, I miss a certain Gentleman Caller and look forward to getting back to him.