Updates on the Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Below is an update message, originally sent out to the Facebook group:

Thank you for showing your support of the Oregon Historical Society Research library in joining the Facebook group, Save the Oregon Historical Society Research Library & Staff!

If you haven’t been visiting the Facebook page directly, it’s worth noting some of the discussions that have recently posted:

1) The Northwest History Network, a non-profit consortium of history professionals, called a meeting on Sunday, March 1 at PSU. More than 20 people attended and generated ways to take action to support the OHS Research Library. If you have ideas, please share them on the Facebook page.

2) The NHN approved a resolution regarding the OHS Research Library and staff and delivered it to the OHS board and Oregon legislators. You can read the full text of the resolution and a press release regarding the meeting on the Facebook group page. You are also invited to read and add your signature and testimonial to the resolution at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Save-the-OHSRL-and-staff

3) Group members have been posting letters they have sent to their legislators and others at the website, as well as contact information for people who may be able to influence the decision to close the library. If you’ve contacted someone on behalf of the OHS Research Library, consider sharing what you’ve written with the group. If you haven’t, look at the site for ideas about who to contact–and then do it!

4) The Oregon Historical Society has announced a “listening session” for members on March 17 at 4 PM at OHS.

5) Planning is underway for an event on March 13 to mark the library staff’s last day at OHS. Ideas include soapbox testimonials and readings from OHS-based resources.

For more details about all of the above, news of the OHS Research Library, and ideas for how you can take action, visit the Facebook page.

And thank you again for your support of the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

— Mary Wheeler
mary.wheeler [at] gmail.com

Please join the Facebook group or contact Mary if you want to learn more. Certainly a lot of us do use Facebook for fun, but it has its practical applications too, and this is one of them. This group allows a quick and easy way for Mary and others to keep in touch with 604 people. Maybe we can think about using it for other advocacy efforts too–and I’m afraid there will be more and more of them needed in the future.

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7 thoughts on “Updates on the Oregon Historical Society Research Library”

  1. Just saw this in Library Journal (on Twitter):

    “In a decision that has drawn deep concern from the public, the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records has closed regular public access to the $38 million Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building, which opened last fall and was dedicated in mid-January, according to the Arizona Republic.

    GladysAnn Wells, state librarian, said that the closure was the only solution to a nearly 75% cut in the agency’s remaining budget for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The reduction is $1.45 million out of $2 million, and archives staff have been cut from13 to 3. The state research library and museum have cut hours, as well.”


  2. FYI – the Arizona Department of Library. Archives and Public Records reports directly [I believe] to the Arizona Legislature. It is not an Executive Branch agency.

  3. Open access to public records is an essential function of government. It is shameful that as informed citizens we have not insisted more from our government officials to provide adequate funding for the operating costs of these facilities. Citizens of Oregon and Arizona should be hopping mad!


    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, and the executive committee’s action yesterday to allow some deficit spending, will ensure access to all types of collections, not just photos, reference, and film. We should know within the week what the schedule of hours will be, and I believe they may be about the same as before we reestablished the state appropriation in 2007, i.e., about 12 or 15 hrs per week. We added staff and extended service hours to 32 per week, including Saturdays, as a result of the appropriation, which is now in jeopardy.

    I think there is a real chance that OHS will see no appropriation for 2009-11. That, plus the other revenue losses, would take almost $2 million from the operating budget–somewhere in the 40 to 50% range. Much of the remaining budget is basic to whatever programs we operate: utilities, security, insurance, IT, development, finance, maintenance, etc. The museum/education staff consists of three full-time people.

    Here is the statement we issued on Friday.

    Update Regarding the Research Library

    1. The Board of Trustees has authorized two additional positions in the library, which will enable OHS to provide access to archival collections, rare books, reference materials, and microfilm, in addition to photographs, films, and videos. These positions are funded through the end of May and may be renewed if funding is available. This brings total staffing to the level of 4.5 positions.

    2. Library staff members will work with management and our wonderful library volunteers over the next two weeks to develop and announce a new schedule of hours for the library. The new schedule will be posted on the Society’s website as soon as it is available, on or before March 31.

    3. The Board of Trustees is actively in discussion with various entities about long-term solutions for the library. The Board understands that the library collections are a major resource for scholars and the general public alike. The Board also understands that the dedicated library staff members are an important and irreplaceable asset because of their specialized knowledge of the collections. No one on the Board feels that closure or heavily restricted hours of access to the library is an acceptable long-term solution.

    4. All members of the Board urge citizens to make their views about the library and state funding known to your state legislators. The process of developing the 2009-11 state budget has begun in Salem, and now is the time for action.

    George L. Vogt
    Executive Director

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