Reference services form the core function of any type of library. Even when faced with shrinking budgets and staff sizes, library and archives workers continue to provide reference services to meet the demands of researchers. Yet a critical analysis of the internal systems used for archival and special collections reference work is lacking compared to the robust body of research about users of collection materials. This article presents findings from a national survey about reference staffing and scheduling models in archival and special collections repositories conducted immediately prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey data revealed specific models for staffing and scheduling used by participating institutions, respondents' level of satisfaction with staffing and scheduling models, and the most common challenges and successes related to reference services. The responses also conveyed information about the number of special collections and archives staff participating in reference services, the average length and frequency of shifts, and typical service hours. The findings indicated overall satisfaction among respondents in terms of their unit's staffing and scheduling models, with larger institutions reporting higher satisfaction rates across all categories than smaller institutions. Yet many survey participants reported budget constraints and staffing shortages that negatively impact public services operations. Although the results do not pinpoint a single approach to reference staffing and scheduling that will work for all archives and special collections units, qualitative responses suggest that successful reference models depend on sufficient staffing, internal buy-in and cooperation among employees, and support from supervisors and administration.

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