Envisioning Oregon : Planning Toward Cooperative Collection Development In Oregon’s Historical Repositories
Carey, Gabriele G.
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Carey, Gabriele G.
Oregon celebrated its sesquicentennial in February 2009. Oregon’s historical organizations have used this milestone to reflect on where they are and to plan for the future as part of the Envisioning Oregon project. The vision that guided Oregon’s development and growth is documented in collections of historical materials that fill many hundreds of local government offices, archives, libraries, historical societies, and museums throughout the state. The goal of Envisioning Oregon is to identify the tasks needed to establish collaboration and cooperative collecting so that the state’s historical materials remain safe and accessible into the future as a testament to the people and events that have shaped Oregon. This report details that effort and also seeks to provide guidelines for the development of collaborative and cooperative collecting activities by Oregon repositories. The report is divided into sections that: • analyze the context for historical records collecting in Oregon • discuss best practices for preparing collections for access • connecting collections to users • guide the development of collaboration and of cooperative collection plans in Oregon’s repositories. For the past 150 years, Oregon has benefited from people of vision who have worked to collect historical materials and establish repositories. In recent years, these repositories have begun to collaborate in formal and informal ways for the good of historical collections and researchers. Collaboration is now more important than ever, as Oregon’s repositories respond to decreasing resources coupled with growing volumes of records and researchers. Although a lack of resources is a familiar challenge for historical repositories, the extent of the current problem is unprecedented. A number of organizations, including the Oregon Historical Society, have had to reduce the size of their staffs and the hours they are open for research. For other repositories such as the Southern Oregon Historical Society, the situation is so dire that they are struggling to remain open at all. Envisioning Oregon sees collaboration between repositories and cooperative collection development as a strategy to help Oregon’s repositories support one another by sharing the responsibility of documenting and providing access to Oregon’s history. The plan for cooperative collection development and inter-repository collaboration describes the activities needed to implement and sustain collaborative collecting. Recommendations include the following: • Leadership - Identifying and securing ongoing program leadership and advocacy. • Connections - Connecting with repositories, local government records keepers, tribal governments, and under-represented communities. • Collection Analysis - Analyzing existing collections to identify strengths and weaknesses and deciding on future documentation needs. • Collection Development Policies - Assisting repositories to write/update and share collection development policies. • Training and Support - Communicating systematically with repositories and providing them with training and support them. • Uniform Description - Promoting access to records through basic arrangement, description, and publicizing of collections. • Networks and Shared Storage - Planning and implementing cooperative archives research networks and regional collection storage centers. If Oregon’s repositories implement cooperative collection development and ongoing collaboration, the result will be greater efficiency and mutual support between repositories large and small. Then repositories can begin to work together to meet their real goal – documenting Oregon’s history and making that history available to researchers. The challenges now facing Oregon’s repositories provide them with a unique incentive to collaborate so that Oregon’s citizens can continue to access their history and use it to tell their stories.
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