Wednesday, March 4, 2009

OHS Research Library to Close!

Update: It turns out that the situation is not quite as bad as I thought. On another blog George L. Vogt, the Oregon Historical Society’s Executive Director, made this statement: "Please note that, contrary to many statements on blogs and in emails, the library is not closing forever. At the request of the staff, we closed it for a few weeks so that the departing staff could finish various projects and clear backlogs. We are reopening soon . . . "

We knew things were bad at the Oregon Historical Society with the state slashing the budget, but it is worse than I thought. This message went out over an archives listserv today. It is from Megan K. Friedel an archivist at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library:

It is with great sadness that I write to share the news with you that, due to severe budget reductions, the Oregon Historical Society will be closing its Research Library beginning this Saturday, February 28th. The collections will no longer be open to the public, and all library positions will be eliminated beginning March 13th. A few positions will remain to handle orders for photo and film reproduction. It is not known at this time if or when the library will re-open and at what capacity. As many of you know, the OHS Research Library has the largest collection of archival documents relating to the history of Oregon, including its nationally-renowned photograph collection containing over 2.5 million historical photographs, more than 32,000 books, 25,000 maps, 12,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 3,000 serials titles, 16,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, and 10,000 oral history tapes. I feel this not only as a very personal loss but as a great loss to all Oregonians. If you have questions or concerns about the OHS Research Library closure, I strongly recommend that you contact our Executive Director, George Vogt, at Please continue to check our website at for any future news about the status of the library . . . I have enjoyed working with all of you over the years and will greatly miss the experience of sharing our beautiful photo collections with so many appreciative colleagues and researchers.

I don't know what to say about this horrible news. It is truly a loss not just to Oregonians but to anyone interested in the history and culture of the Pacific Northwest. My heart goes out to those who are losing their jobs and to their families.

1 comment:

Bill Youngs said...

The closing of the Oregon archives is indeed a tragedy -- not only in itself but as a sad measure of an "economy" (regional and nation-wide) that can throw billions of dollars at languishing financial institutions, while neglecting cultural and educational resources with excellent infrastructure. Tremendously healthy in their own right with abundant historical resources, institutions like the Oregon Historical Society Research Library are being asked to pay the cost of things gone awry in other sectors of the economy. This news strengthens Larry's call for a national oral history project (post for January 15, 2009) -- and suggests the value of an even wider national save-our-history movement. Let's do it!