As former oral history program coordinator from 2000-2004, I am concerned about the fate of collections at OHS. Over the past decade the library has been subjected to one blow after another. The OHS Oral History Program was "suspended" in 2004. It has not been reinstated. I am concerned that if OHS does not see the library as a priority, the same may happen to it. Meanwhile, the oral history collections (over 10,000 tapes) languishes with no efforts to transfer it to digital format, and tapes are deteriorating while volunteer transcriptionists have no one to supervise them.
A brief timeline:
1999 - "Black Thursday" - 10 library employees are laid off.
2001/2002? - Maps Librarian Elizabeth Winroth dies. She is not replaced. All specialist positions in the library are eliminated.
early 2000s - OHS Press suspended; restarted soon after under a different editor.
Capital campaign raises $10 million for the Jame Miller Pavilion.
2002 - 15% of library employees laid off
Oral history program receives general funding by recommendation of an oral history advisory board.
2004 - oral history program "suspended" while the national Oral History Association conference is in town with OHS as a co-sponsor. The oral history advisory board is not consulted or notified.
2005 - OHS withdraws from PORTALS. Has lost Multnomah County funding allowing access by county library card holders
2006 - OHS Press dismantled & public historian position eliminated
2009 - library closed for four weeks for complete restructuring. All staff, save 1.5 fte are laid off. Three additional staff hires are underway, to fill 2 digital imaging (revenue producing) positions and 1 collections manager position. The library remains closed as restructuring continues.
The series of decisions leading to this moment have something in common. They do not prioritize preserving Oregon History for future generations. When the oral history program closed, I maintained my membership and suggested OHS tape deposit to community groups. I told people their interviews would be safe there. I no longer think that is the case.
posted 4 years, 2 months ago
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