The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Janet Webster Oral History Interview

November 14, 2014 – 11:30a.m.

Video: “Memories of the Guin Library” . November 14, 2014

Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.
Interviewer:  Chris Petersen

1:31:02 - Abstract | Biography | Download Transcript (PDF)


Chris Petersen: Okay, Janet, if you'd please introduce yourself with your name, and today's date, and our location?

Janet Webster: I'm Janet Webster, and it is November 14th, 2014, and we're in the Valley Library.

CP: So we will be talking principally about your career at OSU Libraries, but I want to talk a bit about your upbringing first, and your schooling after that. So let's begin at the beginning. Where were you born?

JW: I was born in Portland, Oregon, and lived there 'til I graduated from high school. I got my bachelor's degree in geography from the University of Chicago, moved back to Oregon, and about ten years later, decided to go and get a library degree. I went to Columbia University, got my master's in library science there.

Came back to Oregon and after a couple other jobs, I started working at the Hatfield Marine Science Center's—at that time it was Library—in 1989, as a part-time librarian. Unfortunately, my predecessor, Marilyn Potts Guin, died about nine months after I was hired, of cancer, and I became interim, and then was eventually hired in August of 1990. And at that time, librarian faculty members needed to have a second master's to qualify for tenure track, so I pursued a second master's at OSU, in scientific and technical communication, and completed that in 1994, at what time I became a tenure-track faculty member.

CP: Your father was a person of consequence in the history of the state. Can you tell me a little bit about his story?

JW: Sure. Actually, I'd say both of my parents were people of consequence in the state. John and Betty Gray were both native Oregonians, both graduates of OSU; met here, and went on to have—my father went on to have a very successful career as a businessman and a developer, and finally as a philanthropist. As a businessman, after the war, he went to Harvard Business School, came back out to Oregon, and started with a very small company called the Oregon Saw Chain, which was making an innovative saw chain. We usually think of chainsaws, but there's something that makes the things cut, and this was the actual chain. And Joe Cox was the person who was the innovator on that. He was a tinkerer/entrepreneur/logger, and figured out how to make a new type of cutting chain. That business, Oregon Saw Chain, became Omark, and grew into an international company; at one point, had about 80 percent of the world's market in saw chain. The business expanded and took in other companies, well, mainly dealing with cutting, so carbide blades, that type of thing.

In the late '50s, my father got interested also in real estate development, especially how to develop within kind of an environmental setting, and is probably best known for the Salishan, and that was a very, actually, close collaboration with my mother, as well, even though she usually was in the background. I come from a family of five, so there was a fair amount of dealing on the home front to keep everything going. So, I think they made their mark in terms of the—Omark was a very responsible and important industry for the state. I think what they did in terms of developments, at Salishan, Sun River, and Skamania, and then finally with the John's Landing, in Portland—all kind of set a certain tone.

And then, finally, both of them were very involved with the community, as board members and as donors. And so I think that's some ways where people remember them best.

CP: You grew up in Portland. Was there a connection to the coast, growing up?

JW: I started coming to the coast when I was probably about three weeks old. My parents had built a house by—basically, essentially they did build a house themselves, in Lincoln City, so we came down a lot. I spent a lot of weekends, a lot of summers, at the coast. So it's someplace I always felt quite comfortable.

CP: I would gather it's quite a bit different now than it was then. What do you remember about the coast from that time period that really sticks with you?

JW: Well, you remember the trip coming down, [0:05:00] when Highway 18 was much curvier, and when a family of five kids, and you're packed in the station wagon, you remember things like that. You were going through the Coast Range when it was probably more like going through a forest. You get that somewhat now, in the Van Duzer corridor, but then it really was a two-lane road, kind of looping through the forest. You were always anticipating the first time you could see the ocean. You knew exactly where that was. And the different landmarks, once you got into Lincoln City, which, at the time, was five different communities. But you remember Pixie Kitchen, you remember sites as you went along.

My mother's parents often would come down, too, and my grandfather used to take us—walk us over to the Dairy Gold rep's place that's kind of—just to have a chat with him. My grandfather was a lawyer. He was an immigrant from Germany, arrived here—arrived in Canada when he was fourteen, and then came down to Oregon. Self-educated lawyer. And he eventually became attorney general in the state. And he was somebody who loved to orate, and just liked talking to people. So he'd take us over to the Dairy Gold place, which we liked, because we'd get a free Dixie cup, so that was always a highlight of coming to the beach, too.

CP: What interested you as a child, growing up?

JW: I was always interested in art, and also in craft, probably a good deal from my mother's mother, who spent time teaching me how to sew and embroider. I think in first grade she was showing me how to embroider. And it always just—she was always very, I guess what they called—they'd say "artistic," and probably somewhat frustrated, because she was a housewife. And I think in today's age, she would have been an artist. Some of the work that she did is pretty incredible, given the confines of her marriage, and of the time. And the same thing with my mother. My mother was a pianist, and yet when she came to OSU, her father said, "You cannot major in music, because you'll become an old maid music teacher." So she did home-ec, and met my dad, but it was, I think, always the drive to being creative, whether it was with fabric.

Outside, I was always very interested in spatial relationships, how a landscape worked. That was probably partly from my father, too. He would always take us to job sites. I remember very early on, the first house. My parents had built one house, where I was born, and then we were going to—the family was getting bigger, so we were going to move to another house that they were building. And we would go up to that job site, and I had to be three years old, and yet I do remember going around the foundations, and being there, and seeing just how you thought about space. So that's always interested me, too.

CP: Hm. So I gather your parents met at OSU?

JW: Yes.

CP: So they are both alums?

JW: Yes.

CP: Did they talk much about their experience in Corvallis?

JW: Probably my father talked more than my mom. My father grew up in Monroe—actually outside of Monroe. His father has died when he was six, and he was the oldest of three. My grandmother taught school at a one-room schoolroom between Corvallis and Monroe, so the boys all went to her for school, and then went to Monroe High School. Dad graduated at sixteen, and since they hadn't had a father, there was a group of five families in the Monroe area who kind of assumed that role of parenting, in addition to my grandmother. And one of those gave Dad a scholarship to come to OSU.

So he arrived here—he probably was seventeen when he arrived, because his birthday was in July. And he was living with his grandmother, who was living in Corvallis at the time. Got in the shortest line at registration, which was secretarial science. He was always very proud that he knew how to do shorthand [0:10:01], and type very well, and it's kind of how he got to where he was when he was in the Army. A lot of what he talked about, in terms of those days, were working. He worked his way through college. He was also in officer training, which I think a lot of people were.

But he drove a school bus. I can't imagine a seventeen-year-old driving a school bus now, but he did, and he was pretty firm. He told the story about when they were acting up, he'd stop the bus and make the kids get off and walk home. And, again, you couldn't do that now [laughs], but the parents would call him up and say, "Thank you for doing that. Yes, they were not acting right." So I think that's more what I hear about the OSU days. They didn't want any of us to go to OSU. They thought that it was actually a limiting experience, and that they would have—they encouraged all of their children to go out of state, just to have the experience and exposure going beyond where we grew up.

And I think that was sound advice. I think that there was just some limitations to what they could do, and the expectations of them. My father ended up—obviously, secretarial science became business, so he ended up there, but I think he always—if you talked about him later, he would have loved to have been an architect, or even, at one point, he said an anthropologist. There was just always a curiosity he had, when you feel like you have to be the one to have the skill set to go out and support the family, and he had brought up that way, so.

CP: Hm. So I take it education was a point of emphasis within the family growing up?

JW: Very much so.

CP: Yeah.

JW: Yeah.

CP: What was school like for you?

JW: I liked school. I mean, I obviously grew up in a privileged household, so we lived in the Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland, which has its own—it's a public school, but it's a one-school school district, and the parents—a lot of parent involvement, so your school board—I remember my father chaired it. It was like you were chaired by the business community of Portland. So it was small, a neighborhood that was very spread out, but at that age, you walked everywhere, and you—I think I knew people, and I took them just for who they were. I didn't understand the whole class society at that point, and probably if I'd gone to someplace else, either in Portland or much—as soon as I went to high school, you start realizing, "Oh, wait a minute. There are a lot of variations here."

So it was very privileged, but kind of an innocent childhood. So that part—I think I enjoyed it. I went to Catlin Gabel High School for high school, and that, at that time, was a pretty creative—and this was in the late '60s, so everybody was kind of getting a little loosey-goosey anyway, so you didn't have grades, you were encouraged to kind of do what you wanted. So I got to do a lot of art, some theater, and I did okay, I guess. I still got into a good school for college.

CP: Yeah. How'd you decide on Chicago?

JW: I didn't know anybody there.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: Being the middle child, you're kind of following in the footsteps of two older sisters, who were remarkable, in their own ways. I applied to four schools. One of them was Yale, which was just beginning to accept women, and four of us from my class of 50 applied, and two got in and two didn't. I wasn't the child of an alumni. [Laughs] And then the other two places where I applied, I knew somebody would be a grade ahead of me, and I kind of said, "I think I'll just"—and when I visited Chicago, I found it intriguing.

CP: What was that adjustment like for you?

JW: It was hard, going from Portland to south side of Chicago. The environment's different; the time was different, in terms of—I was pretty fearless, and I probably should have had more fear in me than I did, but I didn't let the possible street violence get in my way. [0:15:00] You could get downtown pretty easily, and take advantage of the Art Institute, and the symphony, and the ballet. But all of a sudden, I wasn't the smartest kid, and so it was a—it taught me how to think. And maybe if my formative years kind of taught me how to be creative, I think in Chicago I learned how to think. And it was a challenging core curriculum, but pretty fantastic when I look back on it. I really had one class that was taught by a graduate student. Everything else was by a professor, and that's—and not just junior faculty. So you got exposure to some pretty brilliant people.

At that time, Chicago was not as supportive of undergraduates. You were there to work and to study. I mean, now I get the alumni stuff, and there's the recreation centers, and there's all this stuff going on. I said, "There wasn't any of that." You had to figure out some way to get relief from studying, and from—your major job was doing this. So I danced. I was in a modern dance group, and that was a nice flipping of the brain.

CP: What did you study?

JW: I studied geography. I thought I might do art history, or even some kind of studio art, because I was kind of sold that we could be doing more with the Art Institute, but once I got there, I realized that was not going to work. And at that time, the geography department—it was going through turmoil, and eventually—it was the oldest one in the country, and Chicago had been very well known for its geography. I wanted to do it because I was very interested in urban planning, and that was an entrée into that, in terms of looking at human patterns, and human interaction with landscape. And Chicago's an incredible place to do that, just given its growth patterns, its demographics, and the changing demographics over time. So I did my honors paper was on—in comparison of the city beautiful with the progressive city, and that transition at the turn of the 20th century.

CP: Did you have a mentor at all?

JW: I had two faculty members who took an interest in, I think, what I was doing in my last two years, and one was an architecture, history of architecture, professor, and the other one was a geography professor. And they really helped me think about what I was studying, and what I went through. And then the woman who taught dance was another; I don't know if a mentor, but just somebody that you did count on. I would say that I didn't get any mentoring beyond my experience at Chicago.

At that time—I graduated, I think, right before there was much focus put on women, and what they were going to do after college, besides get married. So I wasn't encouraged to think about graduate school. I was just, kind of said, "Great. Good job. Here's your diploma." And in a way, I resent that. I think that if there had been stronger mentoring, that would have been useful.

CP: Yeah. Well, it sounds like you completed your degree, and then you spent some time at the coast, engaged in the arts.

JW: Right.

CP: About nine years or so. Tell me about that time period.

JW: Well, it's kind of when you finish in college and you kind of go, "Now what do I do?" So I moved to the place where I was comfortable, and I had a weaving studio, and also worked—did restaurant work, and you kind of are trying to figure out what the heck you're doing. A few years into that, I met my husband, and we ended up buying a—he was a boat builder, and had a shop that he had moved up from California. And we ended up buying a small farm, and kind of that living on the land. We kind of say, "Well, we retired in our twenties, early thirties."

CP: [Laughs]

JW: And at some point, I realized we probably were not going to have a family, so I had been volunteering at the local library and liked it, but realized that the libraries or library staff tended not to be very good advocates for themselves. [0:20:00] So I decided to get the degree, so I had some credibility if I wanted to go to Salem and advocate for better funding, or on other library-information issues, so.

CP: Well, that's interesting. So that was the genesis of your moving into the library world, was this interest in advocacy for libraries?

JW: Yeah. Not because I'm somebody—I'm not somebody who says, "I love books!" [Laughs] I like books, and I like to read, but that was not why I went into librarianship.

CP: Was there something in particular that spurred that, or was it just something that kind of built up?

JW: I'm kind of trying to think back about—I think it just built up, and I had been, very briefly, on the Lincoln City Council, and so it could have been a little bit of that, of going through budget process, and realized that there—if you don't stand up in a process, and say, "This is important, and this needs funding," it just becomes a line item. You have to give it some presence. So I think that was part of it.

CP: Well, you decided to go into librarianship, and left the farm behind, apparently. [Laughs] You went across the country to New York City, Columbia University.

JW: I went to Columbia because all the advice I got when I asked people about getting a library degree, it said, "If you can get it in a year," and Columbia had a one-year program. So, and other ones would have been two years, and that's a little harder to—as it was, we kind of moved out, leased out the farmhouse, and moved. But the idea of doing something concentrated—I think going to New York was an interesting experience in itself.

It's a fabulous place to study librarianship because of the resources. And I did some work on English 20th-cemtury book illustrators, and wood engravings in particular. And you couldn't have done that other places, but there you had the New York Public Library, and they had—in their rare-books collection, had a wonderful collection around that topic.

CP: What was the library school curriculum like in the mid-1980s, at Columbia, anyway?

JW: There was probably more focus on subject specialization, and then type of library specialization, which is still kind of true to this day. So I was looking at—I mean, when I went through, I thought I was going to be a public librarian, so I was really interested in public libraries, and again, kind of how that—how they knit into communities. And there was one faculty member there that that was—one of her focuses was on policy and public libraries. I was interested in just learning more about what's out there. I mean, it was a fascinating. I really loved it! I was like a little sponge!

So you'd learn more about government documents, and about children's literature. I was kind of all over the board. And my advisor said, "You really take this programming class." So I was one of the few that took Basic. You knew how to program in Basic. [Laughs] And at least at that point, there really wasn't as much technology at Columbia. They were just putting in an online system, searchable catalog. Prior to that, it was all dial-up, and with a coded language. So when I was first learning how to, say, search OCLC, you had to do—you sat there; you wanted to have exactly what you wanted down. You did the call-up, the dial tone, and you had to parse it.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: You were searching OCLC, and people don't understand this today, but when you were searching OCLC then—I'm trying to remember. It was a sequence of, like, the first four letters, comma, the first three, comma, the first three. That's how you searched title. And then it was the same when you were searching—you did it through dialogue, the databases. The meter was always running, and if you made a mistake, you just blew a lot of money. We had student accounts, so at least they were trying to get you some. But it was just very different, in terms of the technology.

CP: Yeah. Was there anybody who made a big impact on you during library school?

JW: I think Dr. Moltz was one, when she was the public library/public policy advocate. She was a very strong supporter. [0:25:00] And then Carole Learmart was the associate dean, and she was a good practical person, and she was the one saying, "Yeah, take Basic. You don't need to do the rare-book thing. I think you'll be better off understanding over there." Columbia, at the time, had a very strong rare-book and preservation program. They were kind of parallel tracks. So that was fun just to know people in that program, too, and get that appreciation for the book.

CP: Well, from there you went to your first library job, which was in Vancouver, Washington. Is that correct? And this was a public library.

JW: Mm-hm, right. I applied for a job that I wasn't qualified for, but my husband said, "Oh, go ahead and apply." There weren't that many—there were very few jobs at that point in time. So it was a circulation supervisor, but they liked me, and so they made up a new position for me, that was assistant circulation supervisor. It was a very good first job. I worked—I was the night supervisor, and I was the kind of the lowest professional on the rung, but you worked reference desk hours, so you learned general reference. I supervised the night staff. I trained the entry-level shelvers, and so I learned how to evaluate people.

And at that time, Candy Morgan, who's quite well known in the library world, especially in public libraries, was in the administration of the Fort Vancouver Library District. And she was a stickler. If you were writing a review of somebody—we did have standards, and you had to do this—you couldn't get away with saying, "This person was satisfactory," or, "was good." You had to be very specific: "This is what they can do. This is what they can't do, this is where they"—so it was a good training that way. She's also—throughout her career has been a staunch advocate for intellectual freedom, and that library district is known for having taken on some very hard stances around intellectual freedom, and in later years it was around filtering, but had had numerous censorship cases brought against them, and they've always defended the right to access. So you got that.

And we went through a library remodel, and we went through a union strike, and we went through leadership changes, and that was all, like, in a year and a half. I was commuting down to the coast on the weekends, so after a year and a half, it was kind of—it was like, "Is this really going to work in the long haul?" So I figure in that first year and a half, I kind of—it was kind of like doing a post-doc. You're really—I got very strong core training on supervision, and, like, bringing some of the theory you learn in library school into action.

CP: Were you still feeling like you wanted to stay in public libraries?

JW: Mm-hm.

CP: Obviously, your next job was not in a public library.

JW: No, I was a pretty strong public library person. I think, in part, it was because I had been the product of private universities, and I knew I didn't want to work in a private university. That wasn't the audience that I felt sympathetic to. So Newport Public has a good public library, and I had the possibility, as a position there, as an assistant, I think, came up—I'm trying to remember the sequence. But the part-time job at the Science Center came up, and I was intrigued.

And part of it was because of Marilyn Guin, who was a pretty fabulous model. She had her library degree, she also had a master's from OSU in oceanography, and she demonstrated me how a librarian in that setting really does have to invent themselves, and understand the audience and the people they're working with, that these are people, and you're there to be part of that community, not just to serve, but to really be part of that community, which means talking to people in the hall, knowing what they're working on, being able to kind of say—or see something come across and say, "Oh, yeah, that's—So-and-so's working on that, I better send that to them."

And so when I was hired in 1989, we had just broken ground on the new library, which is now 25 years old, so not so new, and we were automating the collection. [0:30:02] So I spent about three months barcoding, which is not a bad way to learn a collection.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: If you have to go through the whole thing and put barcodes on it, you start to get a feel for what's there. And I had no science background, and no real background in academic libraries, except of having been a user of them. So again, that was probably a pretty good training. And I had Marilyn, who involved me a lot in thinking about the interior design of the library that was being built, introducing me to kind of the professional network that she was part of, and also just the community at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

CP: I assume that she was ill when you were hired. Is that correct?

JW: She had had breast cancer earlier, and she was not ill when I was hired, but in late summer, it was pretty obvious that she—the breast cancer had returned. Yeah. I think it took her a while to figure that one out, and it took all of us a while not to be in denial that it had come back, and come back with a vengeance. It was a hard time, because, like I said, we were building this building that had been her brainchild, and something that she had always wanted to see. She'd been the first librarian there, and had really built up the collection, and built up a reputation for what libraries, library service, could be in that setting, which is unique for OSU.

This was also at the time when the OSU administration was pretty heavy on the oceanographic side, so we had John Byrne as president, and George Keller as the VP for research. So having a librarian that was strong, I think, made them realize that this is an important attribute. I think they got it because of her, and they've always been generous towards me, too. So it was very hard when she died, in December of '89.

CP: Yeah. What I was going to ask is sort of about the status of the library, and the status of HMSC at that time. It sounds like it was in pretty good shape. I mean, you were expanding, obviously?

JW: It was in good shape. I think the '80s, we'd seen building over time. Dr. Weber arrived as HMSC in 1976, and he was the first true resident director. And before that, HMSC had had, I think, its ups and downs, and finally John Byrne had been the director, but sitting over here in Corvallis. So having Lavern arrive, kind of with no baggage—I think he kind of could tear into it in a different way. It wasn't easy, because there were still ongoing tensions between Newport and Corvallis. They don't want to see this place soak up resources out there. So a lot of what was going on was partnerships.

When the library space, the original library space—well, there had been several library spaces, I mean, and they were just rooms with reprint collections. The original library space was part an education building, which was built in '76, and that's when Marilyn said, "If you're going to have this space, you need a librarian." So she and Lavern kind of started in; together, I think, were a pretty strong team. There was more federal dollars at that time, too, so we had several NOAA buildings. I can't remember the exact dates of the Newport Aquaculture Lab, which we called "NAL," and the RSF building, which is Research Support Facility. Those are both NOAA buildings, and they were built in the '70s.

Lavern realized the importance of those partnerships, and so built on those. You're going to have buildings, but for quite a while, they were kind of empty buildings, and so how do you build out programs in those and have—and really beginning how do you build out not just existing programs, but bring in new programs? And so it was in the mid-eighties that we had NOAA scientists arrive in a couple of different ways. And I think that once you start getting bodies, that helps. [0:35:00]

And since I wasn't there when they were planning for the new library, I think they still were on a growth trajectory, saying, "We need to keep building something so there's something here." And I think he was being supported by President Byrne in those efforts, and by Dr. Keller. But still, there were not as many university positions out there. It was this unique combination of state and federal agency people, and then some university people. And that is still unique in marine labs across the country.

CP: Lavern Weber is somebody that we had hoped to speak to for this project. He died this year. Can you tell me a little more about him, just your memories of him as a man?

JW: I had the honor of speaking at his service, his memorial service, and it makes you kind of think back about who he was. Also, we recently renovated the new library, and in that renovation got to create a new meeting room, and the administrative assistant of the director called up, and said, "Well, what's the name of this room? We've got to put it on the schedule." We said, "Okay, well, what shall we name this room? Oh, let's call it after Lavern." And this is prior to his death.

I said, "Yeah, we'll call it the Lavern Weber Room," and then I said, "Oh, wait a minute, I bet you there's a process for naming things on campus. I better ask, but we'll go ahead. Put it on as 'The Weber Room." I'm going to order the plaque," because we had our Marine Science Day coming up. I said, "That'll be a great time. We can dedicate this. People will be out here, and we can do something for Lavern." And so we went ahead, and I ordered the plaque, and at that point, I think—I think the provost finally got back to me, because I had asked about this. He finally, like, two months after I'd asked, got back to me. He said, "Oh, here's the process for doing this." And I said, "Okay, but I just ordered the plaque, and we just dedicated the building on Saturday."

CP: [Laughs]

JW: But it went through, and actually I was telling that to Lavern, which—he loved that! It was exactly what he would have done. You kind of go ahead, and then you ask for forgiveness. So that was one thing I always learned from Lavern. He was a toxicologist, and I think that was—when you first came out from campus, people were wondering, "What's a toxicologist doing out here in a marine lab?" He hadn't worked on marine animals or anything. But I think that gave him that objectivity and drive to make it into something. Again, when I was first hired, I was—I didn't know anybody, so I kind of said, "Well, who are you?" He said, "Well, if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be here." And I said, "Oh!"

And at that time, he had been pushing through—with, of course, the help from campus—the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station legislation, and that, I think, was another example of Lavern's politics, is that that legislation was a joint effort between OSU's Marine Science Center and the Hermiston Experiment Station, primarily around salmon, and the idea: salmon's important to Hermiston, because of irrigation in the dams, and if we can't figure out how to keep the water flowing, we're out of business. So let's partner together, and that shows support for this type of endeavor out in Newport. So again, Lavern valued partnerships, and could use them very strategically. He also really liked people.

Oh, and I guess I'll go to that—finishing up a why me - he always had schemes. So he knew that if they got the Marine Experiment Station, he would have an additional pot of money, because there was a superintendent salary as part of that, and so he would be the superintendent at the same time he was director. So he had these two funding lines there. He was going to move Marilyn, part of Marilyn's position, to be head of—kind of head of facilities, and overseeing the kind of operations. So that freed up .5 of Marilyn's salary to fund a part-time librarian. So it was this shell game, this kind of shuffling around, that he was a master at doing. [0:40:00]

And I think I was saying this when he was there when we were dedicating the room to him, and Dan Arp was there, and Stella Coakley was there, and I was telling the story, and I said, "Well, maybe I shouldn't have said that, because maybe now you're going to look at those pots of money a little bit differently." [Laughs] And Gil Sylvia, who's the current superintendent at COMES said, "Yeah, let's not—don't let all the stuff out." So that was how my position even got funded, was because of that.

Lavern was—I think he was pretty visionary. Very competitive. Liked to drive fast. He and Bruce Mate used to have an ongoing competition on who could drive to the campus the fastest, and in theory, Lavern did it once in 45 minutes. This is before Highway 20 was straightened, so that's a little scary.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: And then I told the story at his memorial service, because his widow, Pat Lewis, had told this to me, that once when he was coming back from campus, he was traveling at a fairly high rate of speed, but he came across a line of cars. But he knew exactly where he could pass them, too. So he zips around the line of cars, and just as he's finishing passing, a state cop's coming this way. And he kind of figures out, "Okay, so are they going to catch me?" He says, "They can't turn around, because if they have to turn around, then they'd have to still get around those cars. So, no."

So he kept traveling at a high rate of speed, but he said, "But they'll call ahead, and there'll be a cop at Toledo," and so he slowed down right before, and then, sure enough, he pulls in and there's the police car, and it follows him all the way in. And he was driving a state car, which is one way they could probably kind of mark it. So they followed him all the way back to the Marine Science Center, but he's fine; they didn't do anything. The next day, Bob Olson came into his office and said, "The weirdest thing happened. I was driving to campus in the state car, and a cop followed me all the way up to Corvallis." Lavern never said anything to Bob about that.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: And that was kind of classic. He knew when to just sympathize, and when to argue, when to encourage. And he was very good to me, because losing Marilyn was a big deal, and very hard on him, but he realized he was stuck with me. And then when I got hired on, he'd lost—he was really stuck with me. But from the very beginning, he included me in the conversations. I think even that first—right after I was hired, he needed to send somebody to an NSF workshop on GIS at field stations. He said, "You want to go?" So I said, "Oh, okay, I'll go to that." And I was one of two librarians in the middle of these computer/GIS people. It was that type of thing; he just—he had confidence. If he had confidence in you, he had confidence in you, and he invested in you.

CP: Well, you mentioned Marilyn passed away. You'd been there nine months, and all of a sudden, you're in charge.

JW: Mm-hm.

CP: Tell me about that time period. I mean, you're pretty new to the profession, still, and how are you figuring out exactly what you're doing?

JW: Well, I've always said a good librarian can be a good librarian, no matter what, and I had had pretty strong training on the basics. I also had a staff member who had been with the OSU libraries for quite a—for nine years, and had just recently transferred out to Newport. So she kind of knew—she was a technical collections person, but she kind of knew that part of it. I probably floundered a fair amount, but I was also—I wasn't afraid to say, "I don't know."

So you learn the basic reference books, and when somebody comes in talking about echinoderms, and I'm kind of going, "Um, well, is that like mineral, animal?" I mean, you just had to kind of be—not feel badly about being dumb, or not knowing. And I think actually, a really good librarian should be curious enough, and confident enough, that you don't have to know it all, and just knowing how to ask the question so the person doesn't think you're so dumb you can't figure it out. [0:45:00]

We were just getting—databases on CD-ROM had just come in, so that was kind of learning how that worked, learning who could help me do it, because it's not as if we had—we didn't have e-mail. I had an e-mail account through Omninet, that I got—I kind of used—we had it to be used to communicate among the marine science librarians, and do some resource-sharing that way. But it was really new, and it was really clunky, how you did it. And the phones—you ended up, you were on the phone. Things were just—it's not to say that they were slower. It's just there was a lot more disconnect between Newport and the valley, because you didn't have videoconferencing; you didn't have this seamless e-mail. When I arrived, I shared an office with Marilyn. We had the first fax machine in the whole center there, and it was the size of a photocopier, so you kind of realized that we were kind of cutting-edge out there! [Laughs]

So making that transition after she died, everybody was kind of in shock. And when that happens, when somebody that critical to a place dies, there's a real grieving that goes on, and I think there's a lot of people that wanted to talk about it, and they wanted somebody there, and so I think they at least recognized me. It was also a smaller group of people, so I had to start meeting more people, and kind of interacting a little bit more.

We were also doing fundraising. The money for the new building came—this is when we still had Senator Hatfield—"Uncle Mark," as we liked to call him—because we were a beneficiary of his place on the Senate Appropriations And the building was funded through EPA. We were building a new EPA lab at the same time we were building the library, and when the library was finished, EPA deeded it over to OSU. Prior to that, it was an EPA building. But we didn't have any money for the furnishings. So that was one way to kind of get to know people, when you have to fundraise, and you need some phone banks, and you do some community work, and you realize who out there in that community was willing to help do some fundraising. So that was good.

There wasn't—I still drove over to campus once a week. That had always been part of what was done. Marilyn did it. It was part of the Library Management Group, and that was pretty critical, to keep doing that. It's always much shorter for us to drive over here than for people to drive out to Newport, and it's just how it works. And I think at one point right after Marilyn died, I think I called over, and I said, "Do you want me to start working full-time now? What's your plan?" Because they were in denial, too.

And so I felt a little bit adrift, and finally, when we got down to, like, May, and this building was getting finished out, I finally called Mel George and Karyle Butcher. I said, "Could you come out and tell me how you think we should lay this building out?" Because there was nothing. I mean, there were some blueprints from how the shelving went in for the stacks, but the rest of it was just open. And I said, "We've ordered furniture, but what do you think? How?" I guess they thought I was doing a good enough job that they didn't have to worry about me, but at some point, you kind of wanted a little bit more worry and monitoring. But that's never been the case with the relationship between the two buildings.

CP: Mm-hm. Well, yeah, my notes indicated there was a lot of fundraising going on early on for you, and the next chapter, it seems to me, was the emergence of the Internet era, and adjusting to that. Tell me about how Guin made that transition.

JW: Let me try to remember this stuff. First thing, I've kind of been cleaning out files, so some of it, I was going, "Oh, yeah, I remember that." Again, I think Lavern saw the need that this was coming, and when we were wiring the building, we wired it [0:50:00]—we wired it for Ethernet. And so we had pretty basic connectivity at that point. It kind of came on pretty quickly, and since the library was the newest building for OSU, we were the hub for all the switches, and any of the—I think the first one was maybe a 10BASE-T line. It was a pretty minimal line, what we would consider comparable to dial-up.

And it was pretty innovative that we started running fiber between the buildings, and laid that out. I got to know the people over at Milne, which is where networking was at the time, very well. The two Bills were very—Bill Myers and Bill Ayers were very helpful, and I think since we were kind of this new building, and it was maybe manageable, and they could almost—I don't know if they could experiment on us or not, but it was just figuring out how this worked. And since we didn't have an IT person, so I was—Lavern said, "You can do that." Everybody in their labs were starting to get computers, were starting to figure this out, too. So everybody was kind of on their own, but there was something about: how does this switch work, and how are we going to pay for the switch? That was probably the most challenging piece.

At the time, we had a couple of independent researchers who had very big grants, and so all of their returned overhead went to HMSC. They weren't affiliated with the college or department. And that's probably how we built a lot of the infrastructure, was on those two researchers' returned overhead. It was probably, I don't know, in '94 or something, '93, that we hired an IT person that actually I supervised at the time, and I think it was around '94-'95 that I told Lavern, "I think we need a website."

CP: [Laughs]

JW: I was lucky, in that my professional organization that I'd been involved with, is the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers, IAMSLIC. It's a fairly—I came into it, there was a cohort of us, kind of at the same age, on the west coast in particular, and people were doing cutting-edge stuff. So the person from UC Santa Cruz, they were the first ones to really do the—and just go for it. And so you go to these meetings of 50 people, or 80 people. You knew everybody, and they'd say, "Hey, you want to see this cool thing we're working on?" So I'd bring that back, and they weren't hearing about it at ALA, so I could kind of say, "Okay, we need a website." So then you'd find somebody's research assistant, who knew HTML coding, or you learned enough HTML coding. How does this work? What's the graphic? I mean, they were pretty rudimentary, but, yeah, a lot went on the '90s.

CP: Yeah. We touched on this a little bit, and I'm interested in knowing more about how you've worked to serve your user base, because it's a very diverse group of people, I'm gathering, from scientists to fishermen. They have different needs and different questions they need answered. How have you coped with that over time?

JW: Well, I think that their needs have changed over time. Probably in the '90s, when I started, there was more physical traffic of people actually coming in and wanting stuff, anywhere from the local community to the researchers. HMSC has always been a research institution. Education has been, I want to say secondary, because we have never receiving any funding that way. We're not a college department, an academic unit, so we don't offer courses.

That said, we do have students that come out, and for quite a while, Fisheries and Wildlife required a quarter at HMSC for all fisheries undergraduates. And then in the spring, we've always had the signature marine biology class. And for quite a while, we had a more robust summer program that was aimed at teachers who were working on a master's in science. So the student group in those [0:55:00]—probably up through, I don't know, 2000—really more the advent of the Internet and our switch, the library switchover to more digital assets, the students needed more help just using the physical collection, and finding stuff. So I would work—the same stuff would come up, so you kind of knew the core material they used. There were certain resources.

Researchers—part of it was trying to learn what they were doing, and how that changes over time. Since we had the OSU faculty that were out there—just when I started, with the advent of COMES, we hired new faculty. So I worked with some of these people. They came on about the same time I did, so we've kind of grown up there, and so I knew what they were doing. And since my background was more social science, I understood the economics. I learned more about fisheries management, population modeling, that type of thing. So it was small enough that you knew those people, and you could see what they were doing.

I think the bigger challenge with serving people out there is the agency personnel. If you're not university, you're in a different track. It was much easier before we went as automated, but now, if you don't have an ONID presence, you're kind of—you're not in the system. And so for years, we didn't have that, so you could serve everybody very equally, and you didn't have to think about these differentiations. "Well, that's an EPA scientist. Does he have courtesy faculty?" "No, he's not courtesy." Now, you have to do much more parsing of who's who, where are they in the hierarchy of the university?

My staff grapples with that quite a bit. How do we provide seamless service to everybody, when not everybody's treated the same by the university? You can deal with it differently down at a branch campus, which is much smaller, and being on the library management group, I knew that that doesn't scale. So how do you align policies across the institution when you have an anomaly over there? I think that's been one of my biggest struggles throughout the years, in terms of providing service. And now we're starting to get more visiting scientists. We have a large internship program in the summer, and so people, students, come in from all over, not necessarily being paid by OSU or through an OSU program. So again, you have this kind of bifurcation of the haves and the have-nots. And how do you reconcile that, not just saying, "No, you can't get in. You can't get onto OSU access, but you can get onto HMSC public wireless, and if you're sitting here at his computer, you can use all these resources."

It's challenging, and I'm kind of wondering how we're going to move forward on this. I hark back to that we are the land grant university, and that means we serve the state. When we go more and more towards, like, an e-book collection, I have users who have used the library for years as a federal researcher, and they can no longer use that e-book, because it's protected by a—you need to have an ONID presence. And there are little things that just make you wonder. We were talking about this in the staff meeting yesterday, and figuring out a creative work-around for it, which I think we have. We can lend it to them. I mean, we all have to do it through an ILL process, we think, but it's not—it's just not the same.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: So I guess serving—my approach to serving the clientèle out there is trying to be aware of issues, of what they're doing. I pretty regularly attend the weekly seminar. You've a great excuse, because the seminar room's in the library. And a lot of times, it goes over my head, but at least you know—you can see when genetics is emerging as a big topic [1:00:00], or you can see: okay, this is kind of fading out, or this person's retiring, and they're not going to replace this. When Lavern really went more administrative, we really stopped doing so much toxicology or pharmacology, so that just reflects what we purchase.

When we hired in faculty to do free-choice learning, it kind of raises up some of the education in the museum, and the user computer interface type of work. So, it's awareness. It's staying informed. I think I'm also seen as something of a conduit to the community, because of my husband's business. He services the fishing community, so I've always had a fairly strong knowledge of the fisheries—not necessarily the fish, but the fisheries, and I think that's come into play a lot of times.

CP: Well, you mentioned that you got the second master's, you got on the tenure track, and tenure track means research. Tell me a little bit about what has interested you from a research perspective over the course of your career.

JW: Yeah, it's been pretty eclectic. I've always been interested in gray literature, so the non-mainstream, non-peer-reviewed scientific journal publication. And given the field that we work in, in marine and fisheries, a lot of that work is agency-related, and so it's not classic journal literature. But I'm also interested in that from an international perspective, and that kind of relates back to my work—my membership in IAMSLIC. We are really an international organization, and when you look at something like fisheries management—if you look at it worldwide, the access to information is a barrier to efficient management.

It's when information is seen as power, as something that you hold very close to the chest and you don't share, but then also just as simple as: how do you get stuff if you're at a remote station in eastern Africa, or even in Mexico? Different parts of the world have—how do you get stuff? How do you know what's out there, and how do you get it? You were aware of it, because when I first started at the Marine Science Center, we were on the edge, and getting stuff was hard. We actually had the print journals sent down to us, and they would be kept on display for a week so people could browse the journal. I mean, that's unheard of! I mean, that's like, what? No.

I mean, the only way to get at it was that, and you subscribed to Table of Contents, which came compiled in a little print thing every week, and that's—you perused those. That's how people knew what was going on. So that awareness of access to information started pretty early. How do you do science? How do you do management, if you don't know what's out there? So that's always been a key research interest of mine, starting—I think I did some early work on Columbia River salmon, and that was an emerging issue in the '90s, and saying, "The people are re-creating the wheel, because you're not going back and looking at the older data and the older information, just because it's not readily accessible or it's not on your desk."

And then it probably culminated when I did a sabbatical in 2004 at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN. And there I worked with a colleague who was the fisheries librarian on looking at FAO's code of conduct for responsible fisheries, and focusing on that issue of access to information. Did some case studies, saying, "If this is a barrier here, here's ways to make it so it doesn't have to be a barrier."

CP: 2003 was an important year for a couple of different reasons. You were named Librarian of the Year by the Oregon Library Association, and your father also established an endowed chair at the OSU libraries. We've got the story of that chair from Karyle Butcher, but did you speak to him about this, I assume, at various points? The chair is pretty unique.

JW: Yeah, it is. Again, it was my parents that established that [1:05:00], and you have to remember what was going on at that time was when we were doing the major renovation to the Valley Library, and expansion. So anybody who was seen as a possible major donor was being talked to, and I know that Mel George talked to my parents. They've never been people who were very interested in bricks and mortar, and were much more interested in programs and people.

So I think that that was—and I talked to them a little bit about the idea: what would be something that would be useful? They both have been very involved with academic institutions. My father had been very involved with Reed, for decades, and my mother was very involved with OHSU. So they weren't neophytes to the concepts of endowed chairs, or how you fund programs. I think they didn't really like the idea of a static chair. I think they were intrigued by the idea of: how do you fund something that can be a dynamic contribution to an institution? And not just: here, plunk the person in it; they're in it, and end of story. How do you really make it so it can help that organization change, and grow, and evolve?

So I think that that's—I didn't have a lot of conversation with them, but just what I did was more about, "Well, here are probably the issues that we're grappling with. It's really going to be around technology, and how do we adapt?" They were intrigued, I think, a lot by the idea of: how do you partner with industry? And we haven't used the chair that way, but I know that Karyle Butcher thought about that quite a bit, about how could you do that? How could you bring in somebody from Google, from Intel, and really make it a useful partnership?

CP: Yeah. How about the award that you won? That must have been pretty gratifying.

JW: Yeah, that was fun. I had been president of OLA the year before, but I'd been involved with OLA probably since I started my professional career. The librarian at Newport Public at the time invited me to go the legislative committee meeting when I was brand new, so 1990. I went to the meeting, and I realized, "Oh, this is pretty interesting. You have the state librarian here. This person is from one of the academic libraries. This is kind of an interesting place." And I guess I never left, because I've been on that committee most of my career, it seems, and I've chaired it quite a bit of that time.

I just had been involved with OLA a long time. I've been parliamentarian and a member-at-large, and then was president. So I think that during my time as president, we made some changes, in terms of being more transparent, more inclusive. So it felt very nice, and very gratifying, to be acknowledged by an organization that reflects the whole library community. I'm not sure the academic librarians would have acknowledged me the same way if it had just been them, because my work has really been pretty broadly in the library community. And that's what I've always liked about OLA, is getting to learn more about school libraries. What are the issues in public libraries, and how does that dovetail with what we're facing in academia? What's the continuum there?

CP: Yeah. Well, it's a nice reflection of somebody who got in the profession out of an interest in advocacy, I'm sure. In 2009, you were named head librarian for the branch libraries, one of which was in Bend. I would imagine that probably created some complications. [Laughs]

JW: Yeah, I had already had some—back in the '90s, I was also head of government documents and maps at the time, too, when we had a vacancy there, and I helped kind of dismantle that department, which was the angle. So I think I was used to being a relief pitcher. [Laughs] It kind of made sense, since the issues that I'd dealt with out at Hatfield were probably similar to some of the issues that were going on with Cascades, in terms of being remote. I didn't have veterinary medicine at the time. I eventually ended up with that, too. [1:10:00]

That was a little bit different setup over here. I realized how isolating it can be, but even so, it was hard for me to get physically all the way over there. I did work with—at the time, we had two tenure-track librarians there, so working with them, just trying to communicate more, trying to make them feel like they were part of something, trying to more of an advocate for them. But it was very challenging. I don't feel like they were getting the support from Cascades administration that would have been helpful, especially with the tenure process. When you're the only entities in a program—and it's true for a lot of the Cascades faculty at the time—the tenure process is very difficult. You don't have that colleague to really bounce ideas off of, or to push you, or to collaborate with you. You're having to look outside for collaborations and for support. You really have to be pretty self-motivated. And if you don't have that context, or any of that experience, or the support, it's a challenge—a challenging time.

And I think now, as we move forward with Cascades, we're facing other challenges. I mean, I think that we're going to be looking at a very, very minimal physical footprint on that new campus, and I think some would see that as just awful. "What do you mean, you don't have books?" But on the other hand, you look at what the current students use, and how the current faculty do research, and how is that going to change? They're very reliant on electronic resources now, so how do you just make that a better experience? I think it's going to be what we're looking at, which I think is an interesting challenge. How do you make e-books accessible?

CP: I'm interested in knowing a little bit about the environment at HMSC kind of in the last few years, heading into the future. I'm wondering about the move of the NOAA fleet to Newport, which took place in 2011, and I'm also interested in—it seems that the university is focusing quite a bit on the coast right now, as far as its future fundraising initiatives in marine science, and those two kind of milestones. In your view, what's that been like, out at HMSC?

JW: Well, first, I think the NOAA Marine Operation of the Pacific—it's now actually their other whole Marine Operations. I think that was a coup for the state, and for Newport. I think when it was first put out there as a possibility, the port of Newport actually approached the director of the HMSC, saying, "Well, don't you think the university should be the person kind of proposing this?" And he said, "No. This is a port thing. This is a community thing. This is not a university thing." So I think with that nudge—I don't know. I'm sure the port manager wouldn't see it the same way, but I think that made the port and the city of Newport realize that this is something that they could do, and could propose, if they had a strong community backing. And of course, we were part of that, too.

But I think since the lead came out of the port and the city, and the fact that Oregon only had one site—Seattle had two—so since there was only one site, the legislature could get behind some funding, and say, "Yeah, we're going to put up this much." If, say, if Astoria had still been in the running, that funding—they wouldn't have had that same carrot for NOAA. I think the build-out itself has kind of minimal impact, and people don't get that part. They say, "Well, it must be cool. NOAA's coming there." I say, "Well, NOAA's been in Newport since the '80s, and it's the science piece of it that we are concerned with, and actually are concerned with how that it funded, and how do we retain that funding for the scientists that are pretty embedded in the fabric of HMSC, and in the fabric of the university?"

So it was more probably physical, since it's a big build-out. It provides a new research site for students who are [1:15:00]—because they had to do a big deal grass restoration, so we have that as an ongoing research site. We worked with the city to do major upgrades to the street coming in to both our facility, and to the Mock P [?]. I think that was a major improvement, which really kind of dressed up, but also made the whole place safer, and work better, in terms of transportation flow. So that's mainly what I see coming out of that. We have, I think, pretty cordial relationships with them. The NOAA fleet is interesting, because the NOAA core officers rotate, so you build a relationship, say, with somebody, and then they're going to rotate out after three to five years. So it's a different dynamic, too.

In terms of the current marine studies initiative, I was fortunate that when Dr. Boehlert retired in 2012, December 2012, we were in the midst of hiring—is that right?—Dr. Bob Cowen, and he arrived in—I think it was 2011. You can look at your notes. I'm kind of thinking back, because Bob arrived—he's been here, like, a year, a little bit more than a year. So I was interim director for seven months, and it was during that time that this whole concept of a marine studies initiative was being discussed. And it was being discussed at a very high level. And I was interim. I was having—I didn't talk a lot to Rick Spinrad, who I was reporting to on that, but at one point, he said, "Oh, you should probably be in on those conversations." I said, "It might be useful." [Laughs]

So I did get to be in on some of them, and I think the impetus is: how do we take OSU's incredible expertise and investment in marine studies—and we purposely used "studies," rather than "science," because it does cross so many colleges, and so many programs. How could we just engage that better? It's very turfed out. It's very siloed, like many things are at this university, since we're college-based. And so can we come up with a framework that's really talking about building something that was more cohesive, and really was using the research power, the outreach power that we have, in a more productive way? There is also interest from a donor, and what that might look like, and how that could maybe develop. There's a lot of different strands, probably, coming through that.

We had also been talking for some time at HMSC about, "And what's the next—what's next?" I mean, when you get to a certain point, if you're with—we were pretty full, in terms of buildings, with not a lot of flexibility. The Marine Mammal Institute was wanting to grow more, and you kind of can't grow if you don't have a place to put that new faculty member who was going to be coming, or one or two post-docs, and then three to five graduate students. You have to grow the whole enterprise out. So it was all those things coming together.

And then, in the middle of—actually, when we were interviewing for the new director is when President Ray kind of dropped the bombshell that, "Oh, yeah, there are going to be 500 or 1,000 students at Newport." And it was like, "Oh? Yeah, news to us!" How are you going to accommodate them, and what's that going to look like? So it was all those things kind of happening at once, and so obviously, a new building was needed at Newport. CEOAS has wanted, and needed, a new building for some time. They're very stretched in terms of space. And then, just, how do you make more of a presence for students, and a growing economic sector? So that's—all those different pieces kind of came together.

So I did get to sit in on that first round of planning, where we had to kind of put together a building concept, and it was pretty interesting. "Okay, Janet, what do you think?" And you kind of go [1:20:00]—you say, "Yeah, 500 students, and you need this much. How much space? What should these look like?" It was fun; it was challenging. And now we're definitely getting to a more programmatic planning, and have six working groups that have a very short timeline to come up with some conceptual framework. So Bob Cowen and Jack Barth, who was in CEOAS—the two of them are heading this initiative up, and they will be taking what these six working groups come up with, and kind of fashioning them into a strategic vision and plan.

CP: Would you say there's a sense of excitement and optimism about the future, or are people nervous about this change?

JW: Well, there's probably some of both. I think now that these working groups are going, I think people are much more engaged and optimistic. There was a period when people were kind of going, "Really?" And part is because when Rick Spinrad left, he had been the point person, and so we kind of—it kind of dropped, and Bob was still pretty new, and has done a great job of building the partnerships with campus, and building those relationships.

So I think we're now at this point where now people are going, "Okay, now we get to talk about the stuff that we really wanted to talk about a year ago, when this first came up, that this was going to happen. We wanted to talk about, 'What are research initiatives going to look like? What's the curriculum going to look like? What are the strengths we're going to build around? How is this going to play out between Newport and Corvallis?'" If you're going to have 500 students out there, you're going to have to have 2,000 students over here that are in the feeder system, so there has to be the reciprocity, and everybody kind of has to be in this together.

CP: Well, as we sort of wind up a little bit, I have a question about just living on the coast—the pleasures and the challenges, and what sorts of changes have you seen in your community over the years?

JW: Well, as we talked earlier, I've been going to the coast since I was about three weeks old, so it's always been someplace—it's a climate I've always enjoyed. I'm an Oregonian. Rain doesn't really bother me too much. Growing up, you never had an umbrella, or really, you had whatever coat you had. You didn't sort of suit up for that; you just went through it. So I like the climate. I like the maritime climate.

It's a very easy climate. Even if we have a higher rainfall than over here, it tends to go through quickly. So in the winter, you have the breaks. When you get the gray sludge over here, it's nice at Newport. [Laughs] I always get depressed about the, when I drive into it, or if I'm taking the bus, you kind of, like, descend into the fog. So I think that in terms of being there, I like that piece of it. I like the smells, and I like the setting. I'm not somebody who walks the beach. I can't tell you when the last time I was at the beach, but I do walk to work, probably—if I can, at least once a week.

And I like going over the bridge. I think it's an interesting viewpoint. And I like walking down the bay front, and seeing what's going on there, with the smells and kind of that early morning, and that working waterfront, starting up. I say, "Well, who's going to wave to me this morning? Is it the forklift driver, or is that fisherman driving by, or whatever?" And we live right on the bay front, so we're pretty—I mean, kind of embedded over at—but we're pretty embedded in the fishing enterprise in Newport.

Newport itself? We moved down there in 1993, and I probably was somewhat oblivious to all the city politics when we first arrived, but have gotten more involved with them over the last ten years, in part from being at the Science Center, and seeing development and kind of talking about it. I mean, I could see Lavern do some battles with City Hall about development options, and how do we keep land free for marine enterprises, and not getting it used up with a hotel? That's probably one of the first ones. [1:25:00]

But if you want to have some say over what your infrastructure looks like, or how it develops out, you have to show up. And to show up, you have to know what's going on. So it means reading the agendas. The city of Newport has grown much more transparent than it used to be, I think, and it goes back and forth on where they want to be with development. But you can go on, and you can read the whole city council packet and agenda, if you're so inclined, like, 200, 300 pages of it. But you can at least see what—scan it and see, "Okay, what issues? Is there something I need to show up and do, or talk about, or hear more about, or send in my comment?"

It's a small town. It's 10,000 people, so if you show up, you might be the only person that shows up, so you can either be a gadfly, or you can be somebody they think maybe has something to say. You know people. And after a while, you get to build relationships with people. I think my husband knows many more people in town, just because anybody who has a boat probably has to go see him at some point.

CP: [Laughs]

JW: But I have a pretty good network, so it's interesting to be involved with where you are. And if you get frustrated with Congress, and you're not quite sure what you're going to do in terms of the country writ large, sometimes if you can focus and do one good thing locally, then it makes you feel a little better. That's kind of—I appreciate that. There's a lot of things that drive me crazy about Newport, too, but all you can do is keep working at that. Sidewalks—we need more sidewalks. But then you've got to say, "Okay, here's where we need it." It's just stuff like that, but at least you can do that.

CP: The last thing I want to ask you about is just the profession itself, librarianship. Your tenure as a librarian, you've seen a massive amount of change in a profession that was probably pretty stable for many generations before that. And it seems like it's only going to continue to change, heading into the future—or evolve, become something very different. What excites you about the future of the profession when you think about it, or what do you see as the future of the profession? [Laughs]

JW: Well, I'm going to retire, so it says one thing. I think it's a challenging time. I never quite bought into the whole wringing of hands that the library is irrelevant, and I still don't buy into that. And it's not because of incredible special collections or books. I think what excites me, and I think what will be the challenge for people, is: how do you keep access open? Because there's so much technology that what I worry about is people getting really narrow, because you can be so selective, and you can tailor your whole life experience on your smart phone.

And that troubles me, and I think the library has a role—library, in the big picture, has a role in reminding people that there is a huge spectrum of information, and that when you're going to be—if you're going to select a pretty narrow band of that spectrum, you better at least be aware that there's a band on either side, and even better, if you know that there's the spectrum on either side. And I think that's something that at OSU, given our student body, and given the breadth of our research, and then hark back to the land grant, sea grant, space grant, sun grant—that mission, that we're really here for Oregon, and if we can't help people look at that world more broadly, then I think that we fail.

And I think there's some really interesting ways the library can do that, can help students learn how to think, really help people have conversations around challenging issues, and not just select the easy way out, but really kind of push people to challenge themselves, challenge how they live. I read the Capitol Press, which is the farm paper. I think everybody in my family reads it, because I have a bunch of farmers. [1:30:00] And I'm always kind of interested—inside the front page, there's always one about innovators, or people who are doing different stuff. I always find that an interesting piece to read, those profiles of people, because people have this mindset of what is a rancher, what is a logger, what is a farmer?

And you read some of those profiles, and the people who are innovative, or are being successful, have probably always been curious. They've always stretched themselves. They haven't been afraid to try something different. And again, I think that I always see that flow of information, and that ability to get to something, as being very important. So again, I think that's where libraries are going to be challenged.

CP: Yeah. Well, Janet, I want to thank you very much for sharing your time, and your memories, and your experiences with us. It's been a lot of fun for me; hopefully for you, as well. [Laughs]

JW: Well, thanks, Chris. No, I think this is a great project. [1:30:57]


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