As might be expected, the Society of American Archivists has compiled a thorough bibliography of news stories about the UO archives release, here.
I’m still waiting to see if UO Library Dean Adriene Lim will waive the $210.63 public records fee and show what she and external reviewers had said about UO’s archives and records management processes and resources, many months before I even thought to ask for copies of UO’s Presidential Archives. My guess is that the reviews show questions about whether resources were adequate to do the jobs state law requires. Of course JH had no problem finding money for Bean and his boys.
Meanwhile, Tobin Klinger’s press release and Sharon Rudnick’s version of Amanda Walkup’s investigation report have raised many new questions about how UO dealt with its archivists in the wake of the release of UO’s Presidential Archives. The faculty union has released a statement about Kira Homo, here:
A recent story in the Register Guard, based on a press release from the University of Oregon, stated that two university library archivists were “out of their jobs” because of the role that they played in a recent release of records from the presidential archive.
This is not true.
Kira Homo worked in Special Collections at the University of Oregon as the electronic records archivist. She is also the Secretary of United Academics. She officially ended her employment at the University on March 1, 2015, for personal reasons. Because the university’s information strongly implied that Kira was fired for reasons related to the records release, Kira has asked us to post the following information:
In the fall 2014 term, Kira began graduate study toward a doctoral degree while continuing to work full-time at the university library. As anyone who has worked through graduate school understands, there comes a point when the demands of study and work come to loggerheads. Kira has struggled with these demands for the last several months and decided, in the end, to pursue her studies full-time. The fracas surrounding the records release made this decision easier to make.
Any implication that she left the University because of her role in the records release, that she was fired, or that she was forced to resign is false.
United Academics does not represent James Fox, as he held an administrative office and therefore was not in the bargaining unit. We have no knowledge of his situation outside of what we read in the papers. Most of the information on his situation seems to originate with the university administration, and in light of its description of Kira Homo’s departure, we encourage everyone to approach its press releases with skepticism.
The blog of the Society of American Archivists has this statement:
News media indicate that two members of the University of Oregon library archives staff, James Fox and Kira Homo, who previously had been put on administrative leave “will not be returning to their positions.” See background here: http://www2.archivists.org/news/2015/saa-response-to-member-request-re-university-of-oregon-records-release-incident.
SAA has no information beyond what is in the media. We have not yet heard from University Librarian Adriene Lim, who indicated that she would be in contact with SAA following the investigation. …
And the Register Guard has published several letters strongly opposing Library Dean Adriene Lim’s decision not to renew the contract of Archives Director James Fox:
I appreciated The Register-Guard’s decision to make the firing of two University of Oregon archivists the lead story on the March 26 front page. Reporter Diane Dietz did well to note that the news was released during spring break, and to put the university’s “outline” of what transpired in quotation marks.
The university spokesman referred to the archivists as “employees,” suggesting by that term that they’re lowly members of the UO staff. Such is certainly not the case, as the article clearly indicated in describing their responsibilities.
Dietz also did well to point out that James Fox was director of special collections for 15 years and an associate professor of history, whose position in the library unfortunately didn’t grant him the tenure that protects other members of the faculty.
Fox was no mere “employee,” but a distinguished scholarly librarian who devoted himself to the demanding task of supervising the collection of rare books and manuscripts that form a vital part of the UO library. He labored far beyond the call of duty to raise money and add to the collection.
The shameful treatment of a highly respected librarian will certainly give the UO a bad odor in library circles across the country. I can’t help wondering what sort of person will want to apply to fill his position.
PROFESSOR EMERITA, ENGLISH AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
The dismissal of James Fox, head of the University of Oregon library’s special collections, brings to mind the saying that the captain always goes down with his ship (“2 UO library archivists cast off,” March 26).
Over Fox’s 15-year tenure and through his untiring efforts, the UO library has gained numerous collections of historical and academic significance.
To think that the director should be able to oversee the handling of each document in a department that processes hundreds of document requests by professional archivists is absurd.
The capricious act by the university administration was wholly unjustified and perhaps an attempt to cover up the unsatisfactory state of UO records.
That was reported in a study made by university librarians who recommended, among other things, that presidential papers not be held by the library.
RETIRED COLLEGE LIBRARY DIRECTOR
The University of Oregon’s unceremonious “casting off” of archivist James Fox adds to an atmosphere of intimidation and malaise across campus, echoed elsewhere in our company town (“2 UO library archivists cast off,” March 26).
If a long-term employee with a stellar record of loyalty and service can get the ax for a subordinate’s mistake, anyone’s vulnerable.
During months of administrative leave, while nonuniversity lawyers determined his fate, Fox was allowed on campus only when accompanied by a library staff member, and was denied access to his workplace computer and phone.
Such despotic methods are consonant with what amounts to executive privilege for UO presidents — surely unwarranted in a tax-exempt institution.
Whatever those files may contain, history tells us eventually it will all come to light.
Meanwhile, the university has lost the trust and confidence of potential donors to its special collections, and the services of a genius archivist.
3/27/2015: What did Tobin Klinger tell reporters, and when did he tell it?
I don’t know. Let’s find out:
Subject: public records request, Klinger communications on archivists
Date: March 27, 2015 at 3:30:59 PM PDT
Cc: Tobin Klinger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Lisa Thornton <email@example.com>
Dear Ms Thornton -
This is a public records request for copies of any emails, texts, tweets, andor documents sent by UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger to reporters, from March 20th to the present, giving information on the investigation of the UO Presidential Archives release and the employment status of the UO archivists.
I’m ccing Mr. Klinger, as he should be able to easily provide these, but if not I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, as demonstrated by the fact that a UO spokesperson sent them to reporters.
What I do know is here, including Sharon Rudnick’s version of the archives investigation, which UO had said would be independently done by Hershner Hunter – not overseen by a colleague of the same Randy Geller who wrote the memo advocating the dissolution of the UO Senate that is at the heart of the controversy.