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I urge you to do show on the closing, earlier this month, of the Oregon Historical Society's Research Library. Although the trustees of OHS have now authorized reopening the facility with a reduced staff and hours, as of yet there is no long-term funding or plan to permanently keep the facility open to researchers, students, and the public. At an open forum for members of OHS on Tuesday, 3/17, the trustees held a "listening" session where dozens of very distressed members addressed such issues as 1) what the real mission of the OHS is, 2) why the membership, impacted staff, and current students and researchers using the library were giving virtually no advance notice of the closing, 3) why the membership was not appealed to for specific funding to prevent such a drastic action 4) whether or not, when the library reopens, long-term experienced archivists and other staff will be rehired or if new and inexperienced staff will replace them, and 5) what the obligation of the society is to the many donors of manuscripts and other material given to the library for safekeeping to be held in perpetuity. In addition to inviting the director and/or members of the board, I would suggest you invite impacted staff members to comment on the situation. Prof. Stephen Beckham, Professor of History at Lewis and Clark, would be an excellent person to invite to speak. He presented to the board two specific examples of historical societies which have put their collections in storage in order to focus on their libraries and archival materials, thereby bringing increased prestige and usage to their centers.
Deborah Olsen, Linfield College, Department of History
posted 4 years, 2 months ago
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