The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Janet Webster Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

November 14, 2014


“Memories of the Guin Library”  November 14, 2014  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Webster discusses her upbringing in Portland, her parents' backgrounds and accomplishments, her family's long connection with the Oregon coast, and her interests growing up. She also notes her parents' experiences while students at Oregon State, her own experiences in high school, her decision to attend the University of Chicago, and the cultural and educational impact that her undergraduate studies made upon her.

From there, Webster outlines the years that immediately followed her college experience, describing her move to the Oregon coast and her engagement with the arts in multiple capacities. She then recounts the birth of her interest in a career in libraries, her enrollment in the library science program at Columbia University, the specifics of the educational curriculum that was offered at that time, and her first professional work at the Vancouver Community Library.

The remainder of the session is devoted to Webster's years of service to the Guin Library at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC). She recalls her initial employment at HMSC, her memories of Marilyn Potts Guin, and the status of the library facility, which was in the midst of expansion when she arrived. She also reflects on the life and personality of long-time HMSC director Lavern Weber.

Webster next shares her recollections of growing into the head librarian role at Guin, and comments on the tasks with which she was immediately confronted, including technological change, the imperative to raise private funds, and the challenges of serving a very diverse user base. She likewise details her research as a tenure track faculty member, discusses her receipt of the Librarian of the Year Award from the Oregon Library Association, and reflects on her work as head of all the OSU branch libraries.

As the interview nears its conclusion, Webster provides her thoughts on the forward evolution of HMSC and on community life in Newport. The session ends with Webster's sense of the future of libraries and of librarianship in a rapidly changing information landscape.