Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Chris Petersen Oral History Interview, August 24, 2018

Oregon State University
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Tyger Gruber: Alright, would you please state your name, department, and today's date?

Chris Petersen: My name is Chris Petersen. I am a Senior Faculty Research Assistant in the Special Collections Archive and Research Center. Today is August 24, 2018.

TG: Where were you born, and where'd you grow up?

CP: I was born in San Francisco. My dad's side of the family has very deep roots in San Francisco. His mother spent her entire life there. She never learned how to drive. Died at the age of 95. I believe that her parents were in San Francisco for, if not their entire lives, for a long time. So, there's a lengthy lineage there. My dad was born and raised there, as were his siblings. But I was born there but didn't spend much time there. We moved when I was about six months old to Eugene, and we did so because my father was pursuing his Ph.D. in kinesiology, which he completed quickly, I think two years, but I'm not positive about that. But it was quick. So, he finished his Ph.D. in Eugene. We moved to 00:01:00Pendleton in Eastern Oregon. We lived there for one year. He had a one-year job at Blue Mountain Community College teaching anatomy and physiology. It was known going into it that this was going to be a temporary gig. So, that happened. Then he didn't have a job anymore, so we moved to Arkansas-moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, where he taught at Arkansas State University. We were there for one year. I have only a few memories of Arkansas. I remember honeysuckles and fireflies. I remember it being very hot and going to the mall because it had air conditioning [laughs]. That's pretty much what I remember about Arkansas. Not a great fit for my parents, so they were looking around. There were two options that emerged to get out of Arkansas: one was the University of Nebraska, and the other one was Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon. My 00:02:00understanding is that both were options for my dad but he chose Pendleton. He chose the Northwest. He chose the West Coast. So, we moved back there. That is where my entire sentient life, really, was conducted-from ages four or five, somewhere around there, to 18. So, all of my schooling was in Pendleton.

TG: Do you have a significant library memory from your childhood? If so, could you tell us about it?

CP: I do. So, I have two. I have one from my childhood and one from my not as much childhood. I loved to read as a kid. When I think about my years as a child, that's the first thing I think of is reading, being in my room and reading. That's always been there for me, for some reason. I think that's part of who I am. The library obviously intersected with that. I spent a fair amount 00:03:00of time in the library growing up, but the library really started to become important to me when I was a little bit older, probably early high school. The library in Pendleton at that time (this is not the case anymore) was a grand, old building. It was a Carnegie Library that overlooked the Umatilla River. It was on the top of Main Street heading towards the North Hill, which is where I grew up in Pendleton-the North Hill. It was within easy walking distance of my house. I found myself spending more and more time there as I got a little bit older, because, as with lots of teenage people I think, I was in a period of self-discovery or attempting to arrive at self-discovery. Pendleton is an isolated place. It's 210 miles east of Portland; it's 45 miles away from Walla 00:04:00Walla. There was no internet then. I am the last of the high school graduates that had no internet. There was very little access to information resources that were beyond what one could find in one's community at that time in an isolated place. So, I'm a teenager and I am heavily interested in music-not performing of but listening to and curating taste of. So, I spent a lot of time in the magazine room in the Pendleton Library, which was kind of cornered off from the rest of the space physically, and in particular spent a lot of time reading Rolling Stone. I was interested in music, but I was interested in culture too, and I think Rolling Stone intersected with both of those pursuits-youth culture, 00:05:00alternative culture, politics, social stuff, and obviously lots of music. I found myself in that music room a lot. It became on some level a bit of a sanctuary for me. It was not uncommon for me just to leave a note on my parents' kitchen table when they were gone or doing whatever just saying, "went to the library," and go to the library and be there for hours. That was a real important place for me growing up.

The other library memory that comes to mind for me that I would share here was probably my first experience of this library, which was the Kerr Library at the time. I went to school here and got here early, about as early as I could have. I think I wanted to get here and get the lay of the land, and I had lots of days to kill before school actually started. I came to this library to check it out, 00:06:00and by then I was pretty interested in The Beat authors, particularly William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and other novels. I remember just wandering around the library and being very impressed by the scope of the collection but going specifically to the area where I found a lot of Burroughs's stuff and finding a book there called The Job, which actually was a really long interview with Burroughs, book-length interview, and I pulled it off the shelf and I sat down and I read the whole thing. And as I was moving through the book the day progressed and the sun started to set and I have this clear memory of the light in the building changing and the shadows starting to move in as I was reading this book, and that was interesting and profound on some level for me too. Those 00:07:00are the two library memories that I would come up with in answer to that question.

TG: How about years as a high school student and as a college student?

CP: High school-Pendleton, again, is isolated. It fancies itself as a town with a lot of history, and I think that's true. It fancies itself as an old town, which is relatively true, I suppose, by the standards of the western United States. For various reasons, it is a community that is controlled by a collection of families; always has been. They are people that have been there a long time who are well-connected. And I think there is a strong sense of 00:08:00community in Pendleton, probably even more so than Corvallis, but if you're not a part of that inner circle you can feel it in lots of different ways. So, for me, one of the ways I felt that was through sports. I played sports a lot in high school, but there was an understanding, really, not just for me but for lots of people, that if you were not one of those names, so to speak, it was going to be tougher for you. That is a memory of Pendleton for me that connects to a larger feeling of isolation, I think, from that community-feeling like I really didn't fit in necessarily. Pendleton has traditionally been very conservative politically. My parents are right now basically the president and 00:09:00vice president of the Umatilla County Democrats, which is a noble if quixotic pursuit. In any case, raised in a very different political tradition, raised to try to be thoughtful about the world, about social problems. That's something I'll talk about later about OSU. In any case, never felt like I was really fitting in in Pendleton.

Which is not to suggest it was a fully negative experience. Pendleton, the high school there, when I was going to school, and I think probably still, if you were a good student and if you were willing to work hard, you could really benefit by going there. There was a lot of opportunity for smart, hard working students, which I was. School was a major point of emphasis by my parents and by 00:10:00me. I got into the advanced track fairly early on. I was a three-sport athlete my freshman and sophomore years: soccer, basketball, and track. As I got a little bit further along, my junior year, it just became soccer and track and then senior year it was only soccer. I was a good soccer player. I was the goalkeeper. I was a four-year varsity letterman and captain of the team for two years. That was a big part of my high school experience too, but part of the reason why sports faded away a little bit was because I was taking a very rigorous academic curriculum. By the time I was a senior I actually took all the A.P. classes that they offered at Pendleton High School and I passed all of the 00:11:00A.P. classes. I got some 5's, some 4's and one 3. And by the time I was done, I was almost a sophomore in terms of the credits I had generated.

I really value that about Pendleton, about that opportunity that it gave me. I don't know that it was necessarily always a great experience for students who weren't in that advanced track. I don't know. I didn't have that experience. It definitely was for me, and for a klatch of like 12 other people. It was this collection of kids that would just go from class to class together because we all took the same courses, usually there was only one of them. It was a small high school, relatively small. That was really good. I made some good friends, too. I had a small social network, but the friends that I had I really valued, and we were all kind of weirdos and outcasts in our own way and we identified as 00:12:00such and bonded well together because we didn't necessarily fit into that cultural mainstream in Pendleton. So, that's high school. I came to OSU unwillingly. I came to OSU for one reason, and that's because I had received a Presidential Scholarship to come here, which I didn't really understand the import of that at the time. I was very naive. What I wanted to do was go to Stanford, but Stanford didn't accept me. They said that I did not exhibit national leadership in my rejection letter [laughs], which is true. I didn't. But, that was a blow, because that was a real goal of mine to go to Stanford. I had put Stanford on a pedestal and thought that would be a fun place for me. I did get accepted into Berkeley. That was actually my plan, was to go to Berkeley 00:13:00after spending a year living with my grandmother in San Francisco to establish residency to become a California resident and then enroll for the lower tuition. But my parents basically said, "you know what, don't be ridiculous. You have a full ride scholarship to OSU. Go to OSU." So, I did.

I didn't have a good impression of OSU. I didn't know a whole lot about it. I didn't even really know where Corvallis was. I thought it was a suburb of Portland. Again, isolated upbringing in a faraway place. That's how I came to OSU. I'll talk about my experience at OSU, but I also want to talk about my sense of the university at that time from the perspective that I have now as an archivist. Because I think it was an important time for this place. But, first, me. I came to OSU. I was going to be a physics major. I had a good physics 00:14:00teacher, physics/chemistry teacher, in Pendleton who inspired a lot of people to pursue science in college. Actually, also an OSU grad: Mr. Cooper. I was going to be a physics major. I took the full first year, freshman year I was in the physics track, which actually meant I didn't have to take a single physics class until the third term. It was mostly chemistry and math. By the end of that year I realized it was going to be rough sledding for me to stick with physics. I had some proficiency but my math, I realized, just was not strong enough. I had taken AP calculus in high school and got a 4 on the exam. But it felt like the way that it was taught in college was a little bit more difficult for me to sink my teeth into, and it just did not come naturally to me.


In the meantime, I am a product of the baccalaureate core here at OSU, because I was also taking the bacc core classes, some of them I had needed to do, and I found that I really gravitated towards the world of ideas. In particular, I was profoundly impacted by a sociology class that I took, SOC 204, taught by Charles Langford who became an important person in my life later one. He was a great big guy with a big, white beard and a fully white mane of hair. He wore suspenders and a plaid shirt. But he taught intro to sociology, and it was profound for me. As I said, I grew up in a circumstance where I was uneasy with the prevailing culture and I found myself really wondering a lot about social problems, like racism, and trying to get a better sense of how the world actually works, and as 00:16:00time moved forward as an undergraduate, that became almost an obsession with me. The end result is that I switched from physics to a double major in Sociology and History. I felt like the sociology training was going to give me a "sociological imagination," as they call it, or a worldview that would help me to interpret things that were happening or that had happened over the course of time, and that the historical point of view would give me a better grounding on the actual facts, or data, of history. That was a big shift that happened at the end of my freshman year. I later tacked on two minors as well: political science and economics. I did not finish the econ minor for one reason, that was because spring term of my senior year I had to take one class to get it and it was at 00:17:008:00 in the morning, and it was not possible for me to do that [laughs]. So, I finished one class short of my econ minor.

In the meantime, socially things were getting better for me. The first term was real rough. Coming from the east side, I think a lot of people who have not had that experience don't understand how hard it is to come to a place where it rains. That was hard. It was really hard. I knew the stereotype that it rains in Oregon, but I grew up in a place where it rains ten inches a year and in the wintertime, the sun is still out. It's very cold and often icy, snowy, and treacherous, but you can see the sun. The lack of sunshine and the just torrent of rain was real difficult for me. It stayed that way for years. It took me a long time to get used to the winters here. Connect that with the generalized 00:18:00social awkwardness of your first term, typical first-term freshman. I spent a lot of time in my room that first term, but gradually met some of the guys on my dorm floor who became very close friends of mine and still are. Most of my best friends are people I met freshman year at OSU. They all live in the Portland area now but we find reasons to get together and have a real strong bond with one another. It was completely random. We just wound up on the same dorm floor, really. And friends of friends from there. That's essentially how it happened for me. I really value that. I think that is one of the most significant takeaways of my undergraduate experience, which has been unique and profound on a lot of levels.

So, I switched tracks academically. I believe my sophomore year is the first 00:19:00year the university honors college came into existence. I was recruited into that and became pretty active in the honors college. In particular there was a newspaper [laughs] that I helped to start. We weren't really super organized the first time; the first "newspaper" was more of a pamphlet. I remember I was the opinion editor. It was a staff of three people at the time. I was the opinion editor, so I wrote an editorial, and I sent it on to the person who was putting the actual newspaper together and he said, "You know, the editorial that you wrote is longer than our entire publication" [laughs]. So, I had to scrap that and write something a little bit shorter. But, that was good.

As I was trying to figure out who I was and what I believed, I found that my 00:20:00ideas gravitated further and further to the left and the honors college newspaper gave me a chance to voice some of that. I'd be strongly hesitant to look at that stuff again. I think it'd be cringe-worthy, but at the time it was useful for me and it actually flowed from there into a bit of a connection with the Barometer. I had a good friend who was the forum page editor for the Barometer, and I ended up writing some Op Eds for the Barometer as well, weighing in on the issues of the day. So, yeah.

Academically I got mostly what I was trying to get out of OSU. I kind of tailored my own program. I did a fair amount of independent study, especially in 00:21:00sociology but - mostly in sociology. Part of the reason why is because the Sociology department at that time was not at its best. Sociology at OSU, as far as I understand, sort of traces its beginnings in criminal justice. So, they were training people to be prison guards basically, teaching a lot of classes in criminology. There was a fairly pronounced shift in that point of view departmentally when I was a student, partly because a lot of people were retiring and probably just because the discipline was changing and OSU was changing. But as a result of those shifts I wound up taking a lot of classes with instructors and adjuncts and not tenure-track faculty members, and it was hard to develop relationships, and some of the instruction I was receiving was not great. Some of the instruction I received from tenured faculty members was 00:22:00not great either, because they were kind of checked out because they were at the end of their careers. So, there was a fair amount of disappointment there. I think a lot of people who wound up becoming sociology majors during that time period did so because it was perceived to be an easy major, and it was. I didn't ever get anything less than an A in a sociology class at OSU and I didn't have to work very hard to get those A's. But this fellow, Charles Langford, again, he is somebody I gravitated to and stuck with, and a real strong memory of my sociology time was taking a class in his house. So, I was dating a girl from Nepal at the time and did so for three years in college, and I knew that this guy, Langford, had an interest in India and he had once taught a class on the Sociology of India, but there wasn't enough interest in it to offer it to 00:23:00everybody. But I talked to him about it and I said, "would you be willing to teach us this class?" And he said, "sure."

So, we went to his house once a week, which was this little, tiny place in southwest Corvallis, and he would serve us tea and we would go through the lecture together and our assignment basically was to read a major book from his own private collection and to write a major paper about it. So I wrote a paper on the philosophies of India taking a sociological point of view on that. It was very rewarding. This girl that I was with - so this will dovetail into my library story - but she and I went to Nepal together for a summer, and as part of that we conducted sociological research. So we interviewed women who essentially lived on the street and talked to them about their lives. We got 00:24:00lots of stories about domestic violence and police brutality and just really struggling to try to survive, and I don't really know what I did as far as the paper was concerned because I didn't speak the language; she did a lot of it. In any case, we won award for that, and I won another award from the department for being a good student, I guess; the William C. Jenné Award, I think, which was for outstanding sociology student.

So, that was a piece of what was going on. The other piece was history. It was a similarly successful experience, though far more rigorous. Again, I kind of tailored my own program. Because I had taken these A.P. courses, I didn't have to take any of the American history sequence, so that was three classes I didn't have to take, and I could fill that in with other things, and it was almost all foreign relations. I was very interested in American diplomacy and its relationship with the rest of the world and taking a very left point of view on 00:25:00that. And one outcome of that was a major paper that I wrote on William Appleman Williams who has a strong OSU connection, or did. He's dead now. But, he is regarded to be the father of revisionist American history and he talked a lot about U.S. relations with the rest of the world, taking the point of view of it being, sort-of, well, empire is a word that comes up a lot with him. I was fascinated with Williams. We have his papers here. I wrote a big paper on him in college for our historiography class and got an A on it, but the professor returned it with the remarks that said, "Although your paper is seemingly endless (more than twice as long as anybody else in this class) it is also endlessly fascinating. Congratulations on capturing the spirit of William 00:26:00Appleman Williams. 95." Whether or not he actually read the whole thing, who knows. But I was a little obsessive; that's a theme for me.

I wrote another paper on the U.S. occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century and I did that intentionally. I was taking - my seminar class was on U.S./Latin America relations, and I wrote it because I had come across a reference to this in some reading I was doing related to Noam Chomsky, who was another person who was very important to me at that time. I decided what I wanted to do was to try to write a paper, a major paper, a thoughtful paper, about something I knew absolutely nothing about, and that's what I did. I really threw myself into that project and received an award from the History department, the Gravatt Award for Outstanding History Seminar Paper. That was very rewarding. I was very proud of that. It was a lot of work and it was validated, and I was glad for that. So, 00:27:00that is my path through academia at OSU.

I want to talk a bit about the university itself during this time, because it was an important period. When I came to OSU. So, the first thing to know: me, I, and my cohort from that time period were all children of Ballot Measure 5. This is the property tax limitation measure that did a lot of damage to the public sector and specifically higher ed. It happened in 1990. Not long thereafter OSU had to cut 20% of its budget, which is unfathomable. Think about that. So, slashing programs left and right. Programs completely evaporate. People disappear. Morale is quite low. That was four years before I arrived. I started in 1994. As I said, I had a negative impression of OSU from afar and there's a 00:28:00reason for that. It was really suffering when I got here. The morale was low. The facilities were sub-standard. The sports teams were pathetic - that didn't go away [laughs] the whole time I was a student. There just wasn't a whole lot of energy or optimism on the campus, at least on the surface. It was also much smaller than it is now. The student body was half the size that it is now. It was less than 15,000 people at one point, and you really noticed that. You really felt it. You recognized more people and people knew each other a little bit more than they do now, just because it was such a smaller community.

Culturally, OSU was still connected to what it had always been; strongly 00:29:00connected. It was a land grant school that was satisfied with doing things that were part of its original mission, which is fine. But it was still pretty closely attached to agriculture, engineering; home economics was on its way out at that point. But the more traditional point of view of a land grant school. It had, I think, been fairly well-funded in terms of - well, it had been adequately well-funded by the state for most of its existence. So tuition was still fairly low by the time I started; it really started to go up not long after. But there wasn't a whole lot of emphasis on private funding either. It was a self-contained unit that was satisfied to stay what it was. It didn't have a whole lot of ambition.

It also continued to suffer from significant social problems that had always 00:30:00been here, probably more under the surface when I was a student. Not a diverse community at all - that was noticeable - and really run by the Greek system socially on a lot of levels. So that was the situation. There were a few incidents that occurred over the course of my time as a student that I think were major inflection points for OSU where things started to change and where OSU began to become what it is now, which I would argue is more diverse and more cosmopolitan and more progressive. But a couple of really nasty racial incidents, one of which led to an all-university boycott where students walked out of their classes and marched around. It was very emotional and 00:31:00well-attended. It was part of that as an attendee. That's when I would suggest the cultural centers started to find a little bit more footing in terms of their activism. And April Waddy, who was the ASOSU president at that time, was a consequential figure in making these things happen. She was the first African American woman to be the student body president, a very dynamic, charismatic person.

At the same time, some, again, difficult incidents related to sexual violence occurred that made the news and the Women's Center started to become much more radical and direct in its action. And both of these - well, as I say, the point 00:32:00of view started to change on campus and OSU, to its credit, really started to reckon with these issues in a real way. So now things are different, better, I would argue. I feel like I was there for that shift. I was there from the beginning of the shift and I was able to observe it. I didn't necessarily realize it at the time, but looking back on it now those were important years. It's nice to be here now to have that perspective and to have lived through that a little bit. It's been useful for me professionally and also personally. Anyway, that's a lot about OSU [laughs].

TG: I'm curious about your transition from a major in anthropology to a career in libraries.

CP: Sociology and history. So, here's the thing. Now this dovetails with Nepal. 00:33:00In the fall of 1996, well, at some point in 1996 is when it was, I decided I was going to go on this trip to Nepal the next summer with my girlfriend and some other people, so I needed to get a job. I hadn't had a job on campus prior to then. So, there were two options. I was really into movies at this point and the thing I really wanted to do was to work at a video store. This was the era of Quentin Tarantino and that was the dream: to be the guy who worked at the video store who knew a lot about movies and who could provide a very tasteful, curated point of view on what you should watch tonight. That was what I wanted to do and Hollywood Video was the possibility for me. They were hiring. You had to write an essay to be an employee at Hollywood Video to be considered and I spent some 00:34:00time on my essay and thought I did a nice job, but I never heard back. So I went with my backup plan which was to work in Special Collections in the library, and luckily that's what happened. But had Hollywood Video come calling I would definitely have taken that job and my entire life would be completely different. It's interesting to think about the role fate plays in one's trajectory.

So the video store didn't work out. I had applied for Special Collections. I didn't ever actually interview for the job. I walked in and I handed my resume to Cliff Mead, who was the head of Special Collections. He was always very interested in your GPA [laughs]. I had a good GPA, and he just hired me on the spot. We had a secretary at the time and he didn't actually tell her, so when I 00:35:00came back for my first day I told her, "Oh, well, Cliff hired me" and she said, "okay, that figures." In any case, it was a little more informal back then. But, that was my beginning in the library. And Special Collections at the time-so I'm the last person from that era that still works here at least. Special Collections was in a different location than where we are at now, the SCARC facility, which used to be the Special Collections facility. But there was a completely different facility before then. It was on the fourth floor. It was roughly located where the administrative suite is, I think, on the eastern edge of the fourth floor. It was very small. The door was always locked, so you had 00:36:00to knock to get in. That was our security, though there was also an alarm system, and I think a camera system too. But you would walk in and there was a very small reading room with a small display case and there was a long desk, and at that desk sat our secretary, Shirley Golden, and she had two students sitting right next to her at this long desk and there was one other little desk up against the wall with another computer. There were three student work stations in the front. There was an oval table that is still around - it's in our work area now in the SCARC space - and that was the reading room table. Behind Shirley's desk there was a window and a door that opened and closed and that was Cliff Mead's office, and there was a coat rack in his office and the log 00:37:00basically for our hours, which we wrote down by hand back then, that was also in his office. So, you had to go into his office to hang up your coat and to sign in and sign out.

Off of that reading room, such as it was, was a door with a very small collection storage space which had a little chunk of the Pauling Papers in it, and then you would take a left into another equally small room that had the History of Atomic Energy Collection in it, and there was also one student work station back there and there was another staff member's desk/computer: Ramesh Krishnamurthy. We were all jammed in together. Ramesh's space and also the back of the reading room both had doors that if you opened them you would be able to talk to people who worked on the other side of the door, because there was just a desk with somebody working at it on the other side of the door; some other library employee. So, it was very humble. I'm glad that there's pictures of that 00:38:00space because now I've described it but it doesn't exist anymore. It got eliminated when the building was expanded.

That was the beginnings of my library career, I suppose. I worked for three years as a student in Special Collections. I started in 1996. So, Linus Pauling donated his papers to OSU in 1986. From '86 to '94, when he died, about 20% of the collection arrived, but there was really nowhere to put it. We just had a small storage space where we could put a little bit of it. The remainder lived in two places. Part of it was in Snell Hall, which everything seems to live in Snell Hall at some point, people and stuff. But most of it was in a warehouse. The collection stayed in that warehouse for two years, well, actually three 00:39:00years roughly and didn't ever arrive under the roof of the Valley Library until the new facility was finished, which was the very beginning of 1999 roughly. I showed up in '96, and then there's that period of time, two-plus years, where we're still in the old space downstairs. During that time the focus - there was a couple different points of emphasis for my work as a student and really for everybody that was working on Pauling stuff. The first focus, I suppose, was manuscripts, correspondence, and publications. That was the chunk of the collection that we had in house in our little storage area. That was what we were focusing on in terms of our processing, our organization. The 00:40:00correspondence - and certainly it was not all of it, but we had a good chunk of stuff that Pauling himself had sent to us. He sent things that he didn't need anymore, basically, or that he thought he wouldn't need anymore. That was the 20% of the collection that arrived before he died. So there was work that could be done to organize that stuff, and correspondence from a long time ago was a thing he decided he didn't need anymore. Same thing with a lot of manuscripts. The manuscripts of articles and manuscripts of speeches in particular where things that we worked on and the publications as well. We had Pauling's original reprints of many publications. There was also a lot of work done with Inter-Library Loan to get copies of stuff that had been compiled in a bibliography that Pauling's secretary, Dorothy Munro, and another guy named Zelek Herman, who was a colleague of Pauling's for the last 20 years or so of 00:41:00his life, they compiled this very extensive bibliography of Pauling's publications. We had that. It was very helpful to have that. We had the originals and then we had the copies that we were able to get from various sources. That was a big deal for us during that time period.

The other thing that we did was a digitization project that turned out to be doomed, but this was-so the library wanted to do something related to digitization. In the late '90s, it was an emerging point of emphasis for libraries, I suppose, at that point. The internet was fairly new and wouldn't it be great to get all the stuff online? The plan was to digitize the entire Pauling collection and make it available through this online database with a piece of software that we had called Laserfiche. There was a fair investment of money and time into this and it seemed like a good idea at the time, but there were a couple issues with the project and that was, number one, the collection 00:42:00hadn't been processed yet. I don't know why we didn't think that was a problem [laughs], but Laserfiche had a folder directory structure that was very similar to what you see in Windows Explorer. We digitized stuff and put them into these folders, and it kind of matched up with the physical folders that held the stuff. But every time a change was made to the collection we would have needed to change the Laserfiche database as well. We tried to do that for a while and then it just kind of became unmanageable as we got a fuller sense of what the magnitude of the collection was. That was a problem.

The other thing that happened was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The plan had been to digitize all the Pauling papers, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act put us in a circumstance where the only things that we had the rights to digitize and make available were the things that we owned the copyright to, which by the agreement, or the codicil to Pauling's will in which 00:43:00he made his donation to OSU, was just the stuff that he created. For example, we could digitize the letter that he wrote but not the letter that he received back in response to that. We'd have to contact the person who wrote that letter or their heir, and that was going to be a completely unsustainable process. So LaserFiche ultimately went away. That was something we spent a lot of time on during that time period.

The facility was finished, the facility that we're in now, that was new then, was finished at the beginning of 1999. I was two terms from graduating from school at that point. During that time period, something very consequential to my life happened, and that was that Ramesh Krishnamurthy left. So he was the, I think his title was Project Manager, and he was a very - he is a very - 00:44:00intelligent and ambitious person. He went on to become an upper administer at a university in California for a while and I believe now he's an executive with the World Health Organization. So he's gone on to do some pretty interesting things. We had also gone through a couple secretaries at that point. There wasn't a whole lot of staff there. It was Cliff, and Cliff was doing two jobs at that point. He was the head of Special Collections and also the head of Collection Development for the whole library, so he was very busy doing administrative work. We had a student staff, but this position that Ramesh had occupied was vacant. I graduated at the end of spring term of 1999, and Cliff needed help and so I was offered a temp position as a Temp Library Technician III for the summer. That was my transition from student to professional, which I 00:45:00think leads us into the next question.

TG: What path did you take to the career in the OSU Libraries and OSU Press?

CP: Thank you for asking, Tyger [laughs]. So that's how it started: Temp Library Technician III. I was doing essentially the same work that I had been doing as a student, which is processing the Pauling Papers. By that point, we had received everything, and it was basically all in one place. It's worth noting that this was the first time all of the Pauling Papers had been in the same place, period. Because they came from a lot of different locations. It wasn't just from his house at Big Sur. He had multiple residences and offices and we got stuff from his kids too. Stuff was flowing in from multiple different directions to create what is now the Pauling Papers in this one spot. So, there was a lot of work to do.


I should mention also that during this time period there was a really big exhibit that was curated, and I think this was still when I was a student or maybe right around the time that I was transitioning to Library Tech. It was put on by an entity called Soka Gakkai international, which is a Buddhist peace organization based out of Japan, but they have a U.S. branch in southern California. Pauling had developed a relationship with a guy named Daisaku Ikeda who was the founder and figurehead for this organization. After Pauling died, Ikeda and SGI decided they wanted to do something to help promote his legacy, so they invested a lot of money in this exhibit. We were very closely involved, of course, with the curation of this exhibit and I remember clearly there were three people from SGI who were leading things from their end, and their names were Gary, Mary, and Larry [laughs]. So, Gary, Mary, and Larry would come up 00:47:00from time to time and we would work with them to piece together materials for this exhibit. It was very successful. It went around the world for I think, like, seven years. It went to Europe and Asia and all across North America. It was a big deal. That was another big deal for us at that time.

Well, the summer moved forward, and I continued to do my work and apparently did a good job and made a good impression, and by the end of that summer I was encouraged to apply for this position full-time. So, that happened. I did. In October, early October of 1999, I was hired, but I was no longer a Library Technician; I was now a Faculty Research Assistant. At that point, I became a faculty member within the library and I was 23 years old. This was a tremendous stroke of good fortune. It's the sort of thing that, well, you reflect on it, and you think, "wow, I've been really lucky." It happened because that position 00:48:00was open. Ramesh had left. It happened because I had a good amount of relevant experience that was very necessary at that point. It also happened because we were in a position where we were a year away from a very significant anniversary and event.

So, February 28, 2001 was the Pauling Centenary. Pauling would have been 100 years old on that date. I was hired in October '99 and we had a little more than a year to a year and a half-ish to get ready for this big event that Special Collections did everything for. It was a big conference and there was a whole bunch of other stuff that we did that was surrounding the Pauling Centenary. We put together some merchandise. There were lots of smaller lecture events and various, just a lot of things, a lot of trappings on campus surrounding the Pauling Centenary. Cliff needed help and I was somebody who could do it, and 00:49:00that was extremely fortunate for me. So that's how that happened.

The primary focus, though, of the work for several years was continuing to process the Pauling Papers. That finished in 2006. So Pauling made the donation in '86. The papers arrive in the area in '96. We start really working on it in '99, and then 2006 was when it's done. That was an extensive amount of time and energy put into this process. In 2006 we published The Pauling Catalogue. So, we had received some donor money to do this, a person who was very invested in Linus Pauling's legacy gave us money to publish 1,000 copies of The Pauling Catalogue. The Pauling Catalogue is six volumes. It has like 1,200 illustrations in it. It has color signatures in each volume. It has a slip case. It has 00:50:00prefatory materials. It has a timeline. It's got a lot of bells and whistles. It's the sort of thing that I doubt that there are many publications like it, and I doubt that there will be many publications like it going forward. The work that was done to produce the actual product was done by me but also by two other people: Ryan Wick and Eric Arnold. We'll talk more about Ryan later, I think, but the processes that they used were very innovative. Essentially what - so this print product was created using the same processes that we used to build a whole bunch of websites, which I'll talk about in a second. Ryan was really the intellectual architect of all of that and Eric had been a student graphic designer of ours who had graduated and we hired him as a contract graphic designer after that. He worked out of his parents' house in Lake Oswego and we 00:51:00would just work via instant messenger. He worked really late at night [laughs], so there were lots of emails and what not. It's really kind of amazing to think about how this was done by three young people who really didn't know better to know that this was a very daunting project they were taking on. That's a significant accomplishment and one I'm very proud of. The Pauling Papers are still by far the most frequently used collection in SCARC and the ability to use it is facilitated by that work, by that publication, by that finding aide that we created. So that's a big deal.

Well, in the meantime, the library's still interested in digitization and LaserFiche has gone away for the reasons I described. So we took a different approach to what we might do in terms of digital projects with Pauling, and that was to focus on particular aspects of his life and work rather than taking this 00:52:00massive digital collection approach to try to digitize a whole bunch of his stuff. What we decided to do instead was to create exhibits with curated content that we could manage in terms of the copyright, for sure. Again, we have the right to all the stuff that Pauling created and if we had a document or two or a hundred that we thought were really important to this story, we could take that on in terms of managing the permissions. I actually did a lot of that. The first one that we published was in 2003, and that was on Pauling's work on DNA. It was published in tandem with the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's elucidation of the double helical structure of DNA. That was very successful and it set the template for a bunch of other documentary history websites that came after that. There's a narrative that's written, usually by Pauling's biographer, Tom Hager. 00:53:00Then there's a whole bunch of primary sources that we digitized and described, and I took the lead on most of that. The students do the actual digitization and I would do the description. I did a lot of content selection. We had other kind of ancillary pieces, quotes, and key participants in the stories that we culled out and we provided links to their papers and other resources. I did a lot of that.

DNA was first, then came Nature of the Chemical Bond, and then the International Peace Movement, then we did one on sickle cell anemia. Then we did a really interesting one on Pauling's scientific war work. That was a project that Trevor Sandgathe did. He did all the research and writing, and I think he was still a student at that time or, if not, he had just ceased being a student. He was really early-on in his career here in the library. All the other projects before 00:54:00that had trod fairly familiar ground. We were providing a lot of detail but the stories had been more or less told. The war work story had not been told and this was stuff that was mostly in Pauling's personal safe. People knew that he had done war work and they knew the general outlines of it, but nobody had dug into it on a real deep level, and Trevor was really the first person. I'm really proud of that project and proud of the work that he did. Then the last one that we did was on Pauling's proteins research and that was in 2013. So, that was one major part of our digitization program.

There were a couple of digital collections that we created. The very first one was Pauling's research notebooks, which I think we did in 2001 or 2002. What that was was just a page by page index of all of his research notebooks. There were 46 of them. I did that index and then we scanned everything and put it up 00:55:00online and then we created cross references from page to page and volume to volume. That has proven to be very successful. We did another one on his awards, where we took photographs of all his medals and his certificates and made those available. That was a nice thing too. It's attracted some use, for sure.

The other thing that we did for many years was Linus Pauling Day by Day. This was Cliff's idea. He says he was inspired by the sequencing of the human genome. He said, "if we can figure out all the genes in the body we can create this project." The idea was to document every single day of Linus Pauling's life. So we threw a lot of student time at this. They would go through all the different boxes - we had a checklist of all the different boxes that were relevant to a specific year of Pauling's life - and they would summarize every single document that was relevant to a particular year and they would put it into this big calendar grid, basically. It was actually an .xml document that Ryan created. 00:56:00That went on for a number of years. We succeeded in doing that for the years 1930 to 1969. It is, as you might imagine, an extremely rich resource that has been used to answer questions and solve problems that couldn't have been answered otherwise. We haven't worked on it in a while and I kind of doubt that we will pick it up again anytime soon, but I'm glad that it exists. That was a very ambitious project that has been helpful.

In 2008, we started another project, and this was something I started. And this was a blog. So, prior to this time, whenever we had something newsworthy or an event that was forthcoming or whatnot, the resource that we had to let people know about it was a little spot on our homepage and an RSS feed and that was it. 00:57:00It worked okay. But, I'd always wanted something more nimble and just something with a little bit more...just something better [laughs]. In 2008 the postal service released a series of stamps on U.S. scientists, honoring U.S. scientists, and one of them was Linus Pauling. The particular aspect of his work that they chose to honor was his work on sickle cell anemia. So we had a big event in Corvallis and the postal service issued the stamp there and, I think, in Washington D.C. or some other place on the East Coast, and those were the only two places you could get the stamp for one day. And they had this special commemorative cancellation and it was the MU ballroom and people showed up and it was fun. But I wanted to have some way to let people know about this. I wanted to have some way to document it, to put pictures up. That was the 00:58:00beginning of the Pauling Blog. So the Pauling Blog was something that was started to promote the issuance of this stamp. But very quickly it took on a totally different shape and, fast forward to today, we have been publishing for 10 years, over 10 years. It's almost all original research, there have been 33 different students who have worked on it. It is a consequential resource.

That was the last big chapter for Special Collections. Cliff retired at the end of 2010, and in 2011 Special Collections and the University Archives merged and became the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. And it was the appropriate time for that to happen. One of the ambitions of the merger was to leverage skill sets across a much larger set of content. So, Special Collections had a really big collection in the Pauling Papers but beyond that only had a few 00:59:00dozen other collections that were mostly related to the history of science. Once we joined with University Archives that scale ramped up to over 1,000 collections and now there's, I think, 1,300+ processed collections.

I think by that point too, OSU had made good on its commitment to Pauling. When Pauling made his donation to OSU in 1986, it was kind of a ridiculous decision. There was no place to put it, obviously, and there was no infrastructure to deal with it. But, OSU-I mean, there's lots of different theories as to why he made this decision to give his papers to OSU rather than Caltech or the Library Congress, or other places that wanted it. I think the biggest reason why is because OSU made it clear to him that they were going to devote resources to this, that they were going to make a real firm commitment to spending a lot of 01:00:00time, energy, and money on this resource, and that they were going to do what they could to make sure that it received the attention that it should receive. And they did. They created a department-Special Collections didn't exist before Pauling, the Pauling donation. There were three full-time staff, there were students, and ultimately they built a facility to house this. As I mentioned, lots of work went into creating these digital resources. Lots of work went into processing the collection. Lots of work went into outreach and promotion. I think that by the time that 2011 came around, OSU had really done its level best, had made an honest effort to fulfill that promise. But 2011 arrives, SCARC comes into existence and Pauling becomes de-emphasized because there's lots of other things to do. At this point the Pauling Blog is the primary connection between that era of Special Collections and the current era of SCARC, and that's 01:01:00honestly one of the reasons why I'm motivated to continue to publish the project.

Around that time also, I enter into a new major chapter of my career, and that would be oral history. But there's a connection here between Pauling and oral history, and that is Linus Pauling's eldest son, Linus Pauling, Jr. So, Linus Jr. is the keeper of the flame for his father for the most part, and has done a lot to preserve the Pauling legacy and promote Pauling within the context of OSU, and within the context of the Linus Pauling Institute. He used to come to campus a lot for various events that we had - he lives in Hawaii - I got to know him fairly well, and we'd spend time together. He'd tell stories about his dad that were really interesting and illuminating, and there were things I didn't know about him. I knew a lot about Pauling by this point but these were stories 01:02:00I had no context for. And I thought, "wow, somebody should really sit down with this guy at some point and record these stories." Then I realized eventually that if it was ever going to happen it was going to have to be me that was going to do that.

In 2011, I asked Larry Landis, my boss, if I could get some training on oral history and we applied for a Lundeen Grant here in the library, which is some money that's made available to faculty that are interested in broadening their horizons, basically. Got the money, went to a training in Ohio of all places, and then came back and started to do oral history interviews. I began with people here on campus that had a connection with Pauling. Steve Lawson, who is the administrative officer at the Linus Pauling Institute and a colleague of Pauling's for many years, I interviewed him six times, I think. Interviewed Ken Hedberg, who was a student of Pauling's and later a colleague and a chemist here 01:03:00at OSU and also an OSU alum; interviewed him four or five times, and that kind of got the ball rolling. It reached its crescendo - initially, at least - with interviews of Linus Pauling, Jr.

I was able to make a deal with the library where we basically split the cost of me going to Hawaii 50-50. I spent a week in Honolulu and went to Linus's house every day. He lives in an architecturally significant house at the very top of the biggest hill in Honolulu. He has this expansive 300-degree view of all of Honolulu and the ocean. The water that he has is all rain water and it's completely silent, because there's no cars; he's at the top of the hill. All you hear is the wind and the birds and the rain. So, I'd go up there and sit down with him for a couple hours every day and record. It was a very intense experience. I ultimately came back to the mainland with like 16, 18 hours of 01:04:00content from several interviews with him and his wife and it has been used extensively for at least one book that I know of: the biography of Ava Helen Pauling written by Mina Carson. But, moreover, it has captured this point of view and this content that was sifting my way on these visits that he would make to OSU, these stories that I hadn't heard before. That was a big deal for me. That was a dream fulfilled, and I think it was a really worthwhile investment by the library. It also continued to build momentum for what is now the Oral History Program in SCARC.

What really led to that taking off like crazy, though, was the Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project, also known as OH150, our internal designator for it. This came about in early 2013. Larry called me down 01:05:00to his office and he said that "central administration wants to fund an oral history project. OSU's going to turn 150 years old in 2018, and they think it'd be a worthwhile endeavor to do some interviews, and they have a budget." The original idea was to do 50 interviews, mostly of alumni. Ultimately, we did 243 interviews with alumni and faculty and current students and supporters as well. It was a massive project that took four and a half years. We ultimately collected over 100 faculty interviews with faculty from every college on campus. We did another 100 interviews with alumni from every decade from the '30s up to present day. We traveled around to multiple locations in Oregon to talk to alumni and Extension and Experiment Station employees and to capture regional perspectives. We did some travel around the U.S. too. We went to D.C. and to 01:06:00Houston. We went to Norman, Oklahoma, to interview Paul Risser a couple months before he died. Went to the Bay area. Went to Denver. That was a major achievement, for sure. That was definitely the biggest oral history project ever done at OSU, and probably the biggest oral history project ever done in the state. The platform that we created for it, I think, is unique. Ryan Wick and I have written a journal article about how it was put together. It's complicated, for sure, but I have not seen anything that matches it in terms of the ease of accessibility and the elegance, I think, of navigating a really big collection of content. That was really a significant milestone for me as well-the OH 150 project.

Contemporary to that, we started to think about making other sections of our 01:07:00oral history program or oral history collections available online. The 150 project, as I mentioned, has a very complicated platform that works really well, but the sort of thing that - it's difficult to leverage that work across multiple individuals. I started to mess around with something called the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, which is a metadata editing tool that was created at the University of Kentucky, which allows people to describe interviews at the interview level but also to describe different pieces of an interview in chunks. Essentially what it allows you to do is to contextualize an interview on a granular level without fully transcribing it. It makes it theoretically quicker to put the stuff together and make it available online. So we embraced that and have done a ton of work with OHMS, as it's called. Worked with Ryan to create 01:08:00some sort of custom scripting that would mesh the OHMS records with Omeka, which is an exhibit building tool that we've used a lot in Special Collections and SCARC, and have now published, I think, five different OHMS/Omeka websites that have several hundred hours' worth of stuff that has been made available through those avenues. In particular, the work that Natalia Fernandez has done with the Oregon Multicultural Archives and the Oregon State Queer Archives, and the work that Tiah Edmunson-Morton has done with the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives as well. So, I think that's a big deal. I think that what we've done with that is pretty groundbreaking. It is the future too, for us. I think we're going to continue to make content available online from our oral history collections, and we have this platform now that we've created that is going to allow us to do that at scale, and that's exiting.


The other thing that I would mention from my work is that Tiah and I taught a class last winter, winter of 2018, for the Honors College. This was an honors colloquium class, it was two credits, and the focus was on women's history at OSU, but it was sort of a hybrid class of women's history, oral history theory, and oral history practice. We studied different topics in women's history at Oregon State. We talked about how things have changed, how they haven't changed, and the term project was for these students to conduct an interview with a woman who is somehow associated with OSU and then to contextualize that interview within the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer. And ultimately we put together a website that was initially made to house just those interviews, but we've since 01:10:00fleshed it out with a whole bunch of other legacy interviews with women at OSU. That will be released very soon: Voices of OSU Women. That was a big deal, too. We invested a lot of time and a lot of energy into building that class and received some excellent feedback from students. I think they really got a lot out of it and they really were pleased with the experience, and so that was not necessarily fun but it was very rewarding. Those are kind of the big themes of my work over the last 19 years.

TG: So, you've been an official employee here for 19 years and then you worked as a student for a couple additional years, or is that included?

CP: Twenty-two total, yeah, so it will be actually 22 complete in early October. So, I will begin year 23 in early October it will be the beginning of year 20 as a faculty member.

TG: Alright, and so how has your work shifted or evolved over the course of your 01:11:00career here?

CP: Well, I think we touched on that. I probably skipped ahead in terms of the questioning. Again, the shift from processing - arrangement and description basically - of Pauling, of history of science collections, being the real main focus of my work, to digital projects, digital exhibits related to Pauling. And later on, digital exhibits related to other things - I did a lot of other stuff related to digital exhibits mostly using Omeka - the oral history work, the oral history digital work. I guess the other thing I haven't talked about is I've done a lot of work in the last couple of years with Brian Davis digitizing historic photographs and digitizing moving images - basically Umatics, mostly - from our video collections. He and I have collaborated on that; also Erin Clark who is our metadata technician and Ryan Wick, who is the Oregon Digital guru 01:12:00for, well, for all of Oregon Digital, really. But we have released several thousand historic images and Brian and I have released several hundred moving images items from those collections. That's been a lot of fun, too. That's another real point of emphasis for us right now. So, it's a piece of work that I hadn't talked about.

I've done a fair amount of administrative work as well. So, from the beginning of the creation of SCARC and informally before then, I'm the student coordinator. So I recruit and hire almost all of our students. I supervise a lot of students. That's a big piece of work for me. I'm also the administrator of the Resident Scholar Program. That is a program that has been around for over 10 years now, and we bring people in, bring two or three people in from around the 01:13:00world, really, to do research in SCARC. It's a competitive program. We provide them with a stipend and then they give a presentation at the end of it. I've been administering that since SCARC came around as well. I am the remote reference coordinator. I manage the SCARC email inbox, basically, and sift out the reference requests we get to different people who are well-equipped to answer them or just answer them myself. So, that's a daily task for me as well.

TG: Could you talk about one or more people that have been important to your work during your career here at OSU?

CP: Well, it would have to begin with Cliff Mead. Cliff is an interesting person. His personality is quite different from what you typically find in a library. He's a real extrovert. He was always really comfortable working a room 01:14:00and networking and that was real strength of his, I think, for sure. He was a people person. Cliff gave me a chance. I think that I wouldn't be here if he hadn't taken a risk on me, and it was a significant risk. He took a real gamble on me, and I'd like to think that I have made good on that risk. But I think about that a lot; I value that. Cliff and I became good friends. We also definitely wanted to strangle each other more than once, but he was important in my life. He provided some guidance and some counsel at various points where I really needed it. He is a book collector of consequence as well. He has a pretty big house in the College Hill neighborhood, and I used to go there. He has books 01:15:00everywhere in his house, and I would go there and I would think, "well, this is what a librarian does. You just have a lot of books." It turns out, that's not really the case. But it was very interesting to be in that environment and to spend time with him. Cliff was definitely important in my professional trajectory.

A couple other people that come from the Special Collections tree are also very important. I mentioned both of them already: Ryan Wick and Trevor Sandgathe. Both guys who don't promote themselves, they don't toot their own horns, but they've done consequential work. Ryan-it's amazing to think about all of the product that came out of Special Collections in terms of our digital presence, and it all came from him. He was the person who created the foundations, created the platforms, for this very significant web presence and he did a lot of it when he was a student. It's really a real testament to that guy. He's very 01:16:00smart. It's been a very worthwhile partnership with him. He's the technical side of things, I'm more of the descriptive side of things. I can manage projects well and we can communicate with one another effectively and get things done. We've done a lot of stuff together over the years and that's been very important, for sure, for me.

And, Trevor - actually, I hired Ryan. He was, I think, maybe the first student I hired in 1999. He's been here a long time. I hired Trevor, too. I hired him I think in 2007. Trevor is just good at everything. He is an elegant writer and that's come through in all kinds of ways. He's done a lot of writing for different exhibits. We've done web exhibits. He's also done a lot of work with arrangement and description, and his writing in that context is always very 01:17:00clean and descriptive. There's a Sandgathean imprimatur [laughs] you can notice if you really pay attention. He also has a real nimble mind for physical space and he's done a lot of work with our facilities and the way that our collections are arranged and maximizing space. He's made a profound impact on our operations in Special Collections in SCARC, but again he works kind of behind the scenes and maybe isn't as well known for a lot of what he's done as he should be. But I really value my time with both of those guys.

More recently, I have been working closely with Tiah Edmunson-Morton. Again, we-I mentioned the class that we taught together. Tiah is very different from me 01:18:00in a lot of ways. She is far more outgoing, for sure, but we work well together. And this class was a very intense experience, developing it and teaching it. She's got a lot more teaching experience than I have, and we brought different strengths to the classroom. She's personable and warm, and people can relate to her well. I think the students really gravitated towards that energy from her. I'd like to think I'm a relatively warm and personable person too, but having not done this before, this teaching business, I was very intent on being super well-prepared, and I think that was helpful too. I brought a lot of detail into the classroom that was never used but it was there if we needed it for sure. We worked well together in that context. And she's done a lot of oral history work too. She's over the century mark now; she's done over a hundred interviews, 01:19:00mostly for OHBA. And she's very invested in the practice and we talk about little bits and pieces of oral history and how things are going and how it might go in the future, and it's been nice to have her as a collaborator and somebody that I can talk to about these sorts of things.

TG: You kind of touched on it before when talking about how your work has shifted or evolved, but can you talk about one or more accomplishments that you're proud of having achieved during your career here at OSU?

CP: There's three that I would mention. The first is definitely the Pauling Blog. I'm very proud of everything, well, just about everything I've done period, and processing the Pauling Papers was a significant achievement, but it seems like it happened so long ago that I can hardly even remember doing it. All of the websites that we did, I'm very proud of those as well. The Pauling Blog 01:20:00is the one project that comes entirely from me. It was my idea and everything that's been written for it has been filtered through me somehow. Everything that has been assigned to a student has been assigned by me, has been edited by me, and to the extent that there can be a uniform tone for a project that was written by 33 different people, that tone is mine. I think more importantly though, the ideas behind the work were mine. As I say, it's all original research for the most part, and it is a consequential contribution to the study of Pauling and his era, and I'm proud of the fact that it wouldn't have happened if I had not decided to do it. It's been a ton of work. I devote time to it 01:21:00every single week. And some students that we have are tremendous writers who need very little assistance; others need quite a bit more, and that's honed my skillset as an editor. I'm proud of the investment of time that's gone into it and the quality of the stuff that we've put out. We're closing in-we hit one major milestone in March when we had our 10th anniversary. We're closing in on two others. This fall we will log our one millionth view. We will also publish our 700th post. Those are both moments to reflect a little bit on the work that's gone into and its potential value.

The OH 150 project, I'm very proud of that as well. It was a very intense four and a half years. There was one year where we did over 100 interviews, so that's like two a week. Similar to the Pauling Blog, a lot of what's in that 01:22:00collection, or what's in that project, emerged out of my own interests and curiosity. We certainly had people suggesting folks to us and pursued a lot of those folks, but some of the people that are in there are in there because I decided I wanted to include them. I think of Dick Smiley. So, my formal affiliation with OSU as an employee actually began a year earlier than my time in the library. I worked for two summers at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center outside of Pendleton - the Experiment Station - basically as a farm hand. The person that ran the place when I was working there during the summer was Dick Smiley, and it was a very rewarding experience to go back to Pendleton, to go back out to the Experiment Station, which I had not been to in a while, and interview him there in a place that I knew pretty well from having toiled there [laughs] in the hot sun for two summers. That was good.


Another person who comes to mind is Paul Turner who is the owner, proprietor, raconteur of the Darkside Cinema downtown. I knew of him when I was in college. He technically was also in college. He's much older than I am, but he was a student for a while at OSU. That's how we could connect through the 150 project. But when he was a student and I was a student, there was something called the International Film Series on campus that was very important to a lot of people. It was around for a long time and it was a very much needed avenue of film culture in this town. The films were screened in Gilfillan Auditorium and mostly that was done by Jon Lewis, who is a film studies professor here, and by a guy named Peter Copek before him, who was the head of the Center for the Humanities 01:24:00who died. At some point the mantle was passed to Paul Turner but in a different way. He decided to open up a theater in Corvallis, and that was the Avalon Theater down by the river. Originally it was a little tiny, one-screen theater. Essentially the International Film Series ceased to be a going concern on campus and that content shifted to this little theater in downtown Corvallis. To compete with the bigger screens in town, he opened up the Darkside a few years later, which is a three, maybe a four-screen theater, and then the Avalon got swallowed up by the Darkside. He couldn't run two places at once. That tradition is important to me, the tradition of film culture in this town. I benefited strongly from going to the International Film Series when I was a lonely college 01:25:00student my first year. And I went there a lot afterwards, too, when I was less lonely, but I have spent a lot of time at the Avalon and the Darkside. I was really glad to be able to capture his story and capture that story for posterity through this project.

Those are two people for sure that they would not have been incorporated had it not been for me. There are others that fit into that as well, but I'm equally as proud of the work that Mike Dicianna did on this project. He's a student. He's our lead reference student and he's an oral historian. He became the person who did a lot of the alumni interviews, and he did the "regular folks interviews" as he would like to call them: people capturing texture, talking about what it was like to be here at a particular time. He did a bunch of interviews with people that I certainly never would have had any contact with. He just scouted them out in various ways. He was also our Newport specialist. He went there several times 01:26:00and did a great job of documenting the history of Hatfield Marine Science Center. It's nice how this moved forward. And this expression of expertise and personality from the points of view of oral historians and curators of oral history interviews is reflected in that project in a way that is subtle and probably wouldn't be noticed by anybody, but it's definitely there if you study it. It was just a giant project, too. It was three-plus million words of transcription, more than a few of those done by me [laughs]. We ran out of money but we still had stuff to do, so I spent a year typing. Those are two biggies.

Then the class. The class I taught with Tiah, I'm very proud of that too because it was so far outside of my wheelhouse and probably comfort zone, and I'm a firm 01:27:00believer in trying to stretch beyond your boundaries if you can. That was definitely a stretch and going into the class I told Tiah my goal for it was for us to create something that was worth the students' money, because they're paying money to have these credits, and I really felt strongly that it was important for us to create something that they wouldn't regret having spent their money on [laughs]. And the feedback that we got, as I said, was very strong, so I feel like we did something worthwhile and I think that we learned a lot too working on it together. We learned a lot about the historical pieces, and we learned a lot about what does and does not work in the classroom. So I'm excited to do it again. I think we're going to tweak it a little bit and do it again. I think it's going to be even stronger. So I'm glad for that. It's a nice contribution.

TG: It's interesting hearing about a friend who owns Darkside Cinema now, because that could've been you if you'd gotten the job at the movie store instead [Chris laughs]. Because I've actually been there. I watched Loving Vincent there a while ago.


CP: Uh-huh, yeah, who knows? Who knows? I don't know if I'm much of a business man, but who knows what would've happened?

TG: Chance and fate. I'm curious about a professional goal that you hope to achieve in the future as a library university employee.

CP: I'm going up for promotion at the end of this year, and that's something I'm really focused on and I really want. I've been doing a lot of work that I'm hopeful will make me an attractive candidate for promotion. If and when that happens, I will have arrived at the top of the mountain. There won't be any more promotions available to me in my classification. So from there the trick is to try to maintain balance in my life. I would regard that to be a true definition of success; to have balance in one's life. That's what I aspire to and often 01:29:00fail to achieve. But my hope is to be here for my entire career. I have a clear goal for how long I want to work and if they'll have me, I will stay here for that whole run of time. But I need to make sure that I'm staying in balance and trying to do work that is beneficial to my department and to this library and also satisfying to me. What that might be, it's hard to say. I would have never thought that oral history would become a big piece of my job. When I started working here that was not even something I knew existed. So, I leave plenty of room for serendipity and new things to arise out of the ether.

On the same token though, I would like to continue to build what we've already created. I think that we have done an awful lot related to oral history in the 01:30:00last few years that is noteworthy, and I think that we have the infrastructure in place now to continue to build that and to hopefully build a name for OSU as a place where good work is happening and innovative work is happening in terms of oral history. That would be nice for that to develop, for us to develop a profile that's a little broader. To that end, I will actually be attending the Oral History Association meeting in October for the first time, which is in Montreal, and delivering a talk. We'll see, maybe that'll help a little bit. Who knows. The Pauling Blog-I'd like to keep that going for a while. I don't know how long it can last. It will certainly be 11 years easily. We already have 11 years in the can in terms of the stuff that has already been written. The 700th post will come out in October, I think, or November. Part of me thinks maybe 01:31:001,000 posts will be a nice goal. That would be six more years' worth of blogging, because we do one a week. So, who knows. That's out there. That's more of a personal goal than anything else, I suppose. I'm sure nobody else is keeping track [laughs].

I don't know. I think that I'm in that point of my career now where I'm thinking a lot about what comes next and the things that I really want to do, and I've done a lot. I'm proud of what I've done and I'm looking forward to doing more. We'll keep teaching the class for a couple of years at least. So that will be good as well. There's lots of different ways that things can ebb and flow. That's one part of this profession that I really value is the diversity of possibility, and one thing about my job description that I really value-I've 01:32:00always been somebody who could shift around and develop his own portfolio and his own agenda so long as I took care of business that was assigned to me. That will continue to be the case, hopefully, and I will try to remain nimble.

TG: Could you tell us about some interests and passions outside of work?

CP: Yeah. I was raised in an environment of exercise [laughs]. My parents-that was something we did together. We went for runs as a family and played sports together. It wasn't so much emphasized as it was just what life was. It's always been important to me to remain physically active and I've sort of gone through a few phases of activity. When I was younger I was a pretty good runner. Then after a while I switched to bicycling and did a lot of bicycling. My wife and I 01:33:00have done, I think, seven or eight loaded tours of the Northwest on our bicycles. That's what we did for our honeymoon-went for a difficult bike ride [laughs] that lasted a week. Before then we rode our bikes from Astoria to San Francisco, a two-week trip. I did a lot of that. We sort of ran out of places to go, so we got very interested in Bikram Yoga for a few years, the hot yoga, and sort of became obsessed with it and value that experience a lot. I would like to get back into that if possible someday, but it's expensive and time-consuming and we had a kid in the meantime, so money and time are in shorter supply than they used to be.

So I've been swimming a lot the last four years or so and have become a regular at the Dixon pool and have enjoyed that. I've enjoyed getting better at swimming 01:34:00and playing around with different approaches to exercise in the pool. But also becoming part of the culture of the Dixon pool, because it's an unusual small collection of people at least that are there around when I'm there. I've developed pool buddies and sauna buddies afterwards, and that's been a fun experience too. That is my main recreational pursuit. As I mentioned, we have a daughter who will be turning five in October, and she really is the light of my life. She is somebody to keep your eye on. She's got a lot of firepower in that brain of hers [laughs] and a lot of energy and personality in bags. I spend all of my time either working or with my family or swimming these days. That's pretty much what I do. Read a lot of books with the little one and go on excursions. She just learned how to ride a bike a couple weeks ago, so I had 01:35:00that classic dad moment. That's pretty much it now. I used to read more than I do now. I don't really have a whole lot of time to read. The reading I do do is mostly on the internet, which is probably a bad habit, but this is an unusual time in history and I feel the need to stay informed.

TG: Back to OSU-I'm curious about your dream for the OSU Libraries and OSU Press.

CP: Well, when we talk about dreams, we talk about money, right? I think that's where a dream would find its source. It would be nice if a big windfall of cash would fall out of the sky and we could truly have a little bit more flexibility or the ability to play around a little bit more with ideas. I think that we do a good job of that now, but the issue that we face as a library is we're medium-sized. That's the reality of what we are. We're a medium-sized library 01:36:00that's been under-resourced for a long time and continues to be relative to the university. That's unfortunate. I wish it were not that way.

Short of a big windfall, my dream for this library is that it really focuses on the things it's good at and really dial in to what it wants to be. I think that we're getting there. I think that we have done a lot of good work in that direction over the last few years. Libraries in general have had a little bit of an identity crisis in the era of Google. I think that when Google first became a going concern, libraries thought they were going to cease to exist, and that hasn't happened, but they have shifted a lot and have had to change their point of view a lot, and the librarian of today is very different from the librarian of 25 or 30 years ago; really not even comparable in a lot of ways. Libraries 01:37:00have had to think hard about what they are and what they want to be, and this one is part of that process as well. So I will hope that we continue to move down that path of being thoughtful about what it is that we are trying to achieve and what we believe in.

I think as a piece of that, my other dream for this place would be that people really enjoy being here. I feel like it's been an amazing fit for me, and I really am energized to come to work every day and do my work, and I would hope that that would be the case for everybody that would work here. I'm sure it's never going to be, because that's the way it is everywhere. But to the extent that we can create a culture that's very supportive and invigorating, I think the more we do that the more we move closer to what a dream scenario might be for the library.

TG: A little bit bigger picture-what's your dream for Oregon State University?


CP: Well, I have a fantasy for OSU that I'll share with you first. This is my private fantasy [laughs]. It begins with me being a billionaire and making the magnanimous decision that I can live on $100 million dollars. I'm going to keep $100 million for myself. I'll give $100 million to the athletic department because I'm a Beaver fan and I feel like that's an expectation if you're a billionaire and you're a Beaver fan. You give $100 million to the athletic department. But I would give a very substantial sum at that point, $800 million, maybe, I don't know, maybe I'd give some to the library, too, probably should do that. We'll call it $750-give $50 million to the library and give $750 to the College of Liberal Arts. I would do that because it was my college but also because OSU has done a good job in a lot of other areas of its development, engineering especially, and other areas that are in a pretty good position regionally and nationally; internationally in the case of oceanography and 01:39:00forestry and maybe some other stuff. But to have a truly excellent College of Liberal Arts this place would become a top tier Land Grant university for sure, but it would also would set to rest any question of what the flagship university of the state of Oregon is [laughs]. Because the U of O likes to claim that it is, and I think that's a dubious claim. They are much better at marketing themselves than OSU has been traditionally. But you know what, I mean if we have a strong engineering and Ag and natural resources and sciences program and CLA becomes top notch too, then I think that's a good situation to be in for OSU. So that's my fantasy. I'll have to work for about 100,000 years to get to that point.

My dream for OSU is not dissimilar to my dream for the library in that, well, first of all I would suggest that what OSU is now is something that people could 01:40:00not have dreamed of 20 years ago-to have raised over a billion dollars in a capital campaign and to have physically transformed the campus in the way that it has was not fathomable back then. I mean, well, I've talked about what it was like when I came here, and the difference is profound and significant physically and in terms of the culture as well. I think OSU has done a good job, as has the library, of being intentional and thinking about what it wants to be and what its strengths are and what its problems are and trying to shore them up. And I think Ed Ray deserves a lot of credit for that. He's certainly not the only person but he definitely has been the right leader at the right time for this place.

But now OSU is approaching, not a crossroads necessarily but it's a new chapter pretty soon, because Ed Ray is not going to be here forever. I think he's 72 years old. It's a fairly open secret that another capital campaign is coming and 01:41:00I'll be curious to see what the ambition is for that campaign in terms of numbers and how those dollars are going to be allocated, because the billion dollars they raised has made a profound difference already. U of O is in the midst of a $2 billion capital campaign right now, so one might expect that the OSU campaign number two would be of a similar scale, and it's hard to fathom what that would do. I'm hopeful to be around to see it, for sure.

One thing that I think about a lot is why Linus Pauling came to this place. His dad died when he was eight years old and the family went through some real hard times and Pauling had to work, and he got various jobs. He got a job working as a drill press operator for a while that made good money and his mom wanted him to pursue that for a career. But thankfully he discovered science, and that was 01:42:00his overwhelming passion, but how do you get from this life of real modest resources to becoming a major figure in the history of science? Oregon Agricultural College was the first step for that, because it was basically free. I mean, he didn't have any money, and he worked full-time while he was a student here to pay his $45 in fees per term.

Fast forward to today, and I'm haunted by the idea of there being another Linus Pauling out there somewhere that is going to take the drill press operator job because they don't have any other choice. Stuff is so expensive now; college is so expensive. I'm hopeful that OSU will really focus on that in this next fundraising campaign, to really make a concerted effort to provide resources, to provide access to education to students who might fit into that mold of somebody 01:43:00who just needs a chance to do great things. I think that would be very noble if that were to happen. I'm also hopeful - and I'm sure that this is the case - I'm hopeful that OSU will continue to pursue ecology as a major point of emphasis, because this world has some pronounced environmental problems that are frankly pretty scary to me, and it would be great if OSU could be a major contributor to trying to solve some of those. Those are things that I would think about in my ambitions for this university, short of them being a significant center for the liberal arts based on my major donation [laughs].

TG: Is there anything else that you'd like to add to this interview?

CP: Yeah, I want to say a couple things. First of all, I met my wife here. So the former Karen Russ, also an OSU grad, didn't know her at all. We were in 01:44:00school together. She's a year younger than I am. She had a kind of ridiculous job-her title was assistant to the executive assistant to the university librarian. That position still exists, kind of/sort of, in a very different way now. But she was the first person to occupy it and her boss, though a lovely man, was not the most organized thinker, and so she often had very little to do [laughs]. We met at an event, and I mentioned I worked for the Ag Extension Center, or the Experiment Station outside of Pendleton. That was the beginning of my employment history with OSU. So in 2000, when I was a little bit after my first year as a faculty member here - and it was her first month or two of working here - I was invited to an event to receive my five-year pin, because I 01:45:00had at that point technically been employed by OSU for five years, mostly as a student. I went to this event and she also went to this event, but she went because there was free food. [laughs] We sat at the same table together, because I recognized her boss, and he's like the only person I knew there, so I sat down with him. That's how we had our first conversations, and things moved on from there. It was very much an early 2000s courtship with a lot of email back and forth [laughs]. There was no texting or anything like that. It moved forward from there, and we've been together for 18 years now, and I have the library to thank for that, for sure.

The other thing I would say is that I have really benefited from being a Faculty Research Assistant. I'm the only one in the library. Everybody else who's a Faculty Research Assistant on campus basically works in a lab or in the forest 01:46:00or out in a field somewhere. I don't know why they created my job the way they did, but it's been very beneficial because I've been put in a position where I'm expected to produce content, and I've done that a lot and I've done it well. I have not had the pressure of tenure. I haven't had to do a whole lot of scholarship or a whole lot of service beyond service to my department or to the library itself. And that's freed me up to be creative and to do good work. And importantly, there are also two promotions built into the schema for a Faculty Research Assistant. I'm now a Senior I and going up for Senior II pretty soon. I think it's very valuable to have that as an incentive lying out there for you. I know that it has compelled me to push myself and to do things that have been beneficial to the organization, and maybe I wouldn't have necessarily felt as 01:47:00inspired to do that if I didn't have the possibility of being promoted out there. I wish there were more of me in the library. I wish that was a possibility that other people could be hired into that kind of position, because I really do think it's special and does good things for the person, does good things for the organization. So, those are my two things.

TG: Well, thank you very much for your time.

CP: Thank you, Tyger.