It's History

Protests Mark Closure of Oregon Library


Thank you for drawing attention to this story. It is outrageous that Oregonians no longer have access to the material in the library. The library is used by many more constituencies than just historians, educators, and researchers. Legal disputes over environmental issues and land and other rights are often resolved with access to its documents. Receiving a historical designation for a property can open up economic opportunities, and the necessary documents are often located in places like the OHS library. Applications for federal grants that could bring money into the state often need historical documentation attached. I would imagine that to conduct its business, the legislature that won't fund the library has times when it needs access to the library's collections. If the library stays closed, a lot of Oregon business (both financial and political) will not get done.
Excellent work.
Thank you for covering this story -- It's an important issue to a lot of us. As of today, 650 people have signed a resolution by the Northwest History Network in support of the Oregon Historical Society Research Library and Staff, at…
and 848 people have joined the Facebook group, "Save the Oregon Historical Society Research and Staff."
Thank you, Sarah, for this article.

There is a fascinating sub-text going on here regarding the dispersal and potential diffusion of the OHS' archival collections. I am researching an assertion that the OHS Board is keen to calve-off the photographs and digital images in the collection for themselves and sell-off the remainder of the collection (hopefully to a state institution).

As a current OHS member, I have requested copies of their meeting minutes (in accordance with OR Revised Statutes) so that we all may learn more about how the Board members made the decisions that they made, without appealing to the passion and expertise of us OHS members and others in the state and regional archives, library, history, geneaology, preservation, and other fields. I am more than happy to make this information available to you and anyone else.

Restricted access to the "guts" of Oregon's history is a travesty on par with lost jobs and de-funded social programs, because it will have negative reverberations for years and decades to come.

James V. Hillegas
The OHS Board of Trustees favors big museum exhibits -- which are sometimes financially successful -- while it downgrades and devalues the very "stuff" of history that makes such exhibits possible. OHS turned away from its own institutional memory by laying off virtually all the research library staff. Walk through the front doors of OHS and view the relatively recent remodel that resulted in the cavernous lobby: it says a lot about priorities. The OHS annual meeting is coming up: wonder how much they will address the library closure issue?