Library Dean Adriene Lim requires “professional review” to see UO Archives

2/18/2015 update w/ response below.

2/17/2015: Looking for documents from the UO Archives? Be prepared to justify your request to UO Library Dean Adriene Lim. This restrictive language was recently added to the Archives webpage, here:

University Archive Finding Aids

Permanent University Archive public records are available for research, and are subject to state, and in some cases federal freedom of information laws. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, FERPA and HIPAA, specific records that are legally protected, sensitive, private, or confidential are exempt (not subject to disclosure) and closed to protect individual privacy.  Access to paper records will be granted after a professional review of the records occurs based on regulations in state and federal laws. Published electronic archival records are available in the Libraries’ Scholars’ Bank Repository. Other electronic archival records also under compliance review and processing are temporarily unavailable. For access to electronic records not yet published or processed, please place requests through the UO Office of Public Records.  If you have questions about accessing University Archive records, contact Jennifer O’Neal, Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist. If you have questions about the policies related to availability of University Archive records, please contact Adriene Lim, Dean of Libraries.

I’ve got a request in to Dean Lim for an explanation of what information she needs to conduct this “professional review”, and what “regulations in state and federal laws” justify this sort of censorship. I’ll post her response when it arrives. Of course, if it’s based on a legal opinion from the UO General Counsel’s office, she’ll have to keep it secret…

Speaking of secret archives, the attorney who kept Nixon’s public died last week. Today’s NYT obiturary is here:

Mr. Herzstein was credited with taking the initiative in challenging the deal that Nixon had made with the General Services Administration. It empowered Nixon, who had been pardoned by President Gerald R. Ford, to take his White House papers with him to his home in California.

“It struck me as pretty insulting,” Mr. Herzstein said of the arrangement.

He insisted that the records belonged to the government, and that most of them should be publicly available under the Freedom of Information Act. Acting pro bono, he and several associates obtained a restraining order from a federal judge on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the American Political Science Association, the American Historical Association and other groups that he had enlisted to join the suit.

2/18/2015 Response from Dean Lim:

Dear Professor Harbaugh,

The “professional review” in the statement relates to the appropriate records management and archives processing that is needed before records are made available to the public. This includes following UO’s established Records Retention Schedule:

Non-permanent records are not added to the University Archives, and we do not provide direct access to these records through the Libraries.  Because these types of non-permanent records are not part of the University Archives, access to these types of records must be requested through the Public Records Office.

Our University Archives processing must follow legal regulations (FERPA, HIPPA, ORSs, OARs, Oregon Public Records Law, etc.) and archival best practices.

Permanent archival collections need at least a basic level of processing and description before they can be used for research. Therefore, a request for access to an unprocessed or minimally processed University Archives collection would require two things:

  1. a reference request, and
  2. a request for expedited processing of all or part of a collection

Some way of focusing the request would be essential, especially if the request involves a large collection or group of collections — for example, approximate date range, subject, and/or originating office, etc.  If relevant materials can be located, then staff need to review the materials to identify and separate out any exempt documents from non-exempt documents (with the exempt and non-exempt criteria described in Oregon’s Public Records law). At that point, the researcher would be granted access to the non-exempt portions. If the permanent collection includes exempt records, a public records review would be needed for access to those portions.

Sincerely, Adriene Lim

Adriene Lim, Ph.D., MLIS

Dean of Libraries

Philip H. Knight Chair

University of Oregon Libraries

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7 Responses to Library Dean Adriene Lim requires “professional review” to see UO Archives

  1. Ben says:

    Meanwhile at OSU, the only restrictions are if a private donor left any restrictions, student files/transcripts, and faculty permanent files. The latter two don’t apply if the student/faculty member are deceased.

  2. New Year Cat says:

    I read this not to mean you have to justify your request, but rather that the records won’t be available til an intake review is completed so that materials that shouldn’t be released til X date, or at all, are extracted. Maybe someone from the Library can explain??

  3. random NTTF says:

    1) It reads to me like U Owe want to know ones plans for accessing the files so that they can seek recourse if the outcome is not to their liking.

    2) There are reasons for being secretive, like $500,000 (big ones) per month on legal fees to cover the trail of disastrous mistakes made by incompetent administrators.

    3) U owe seems to always be teetering on the edge of a blue screen of death meltdown.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “specific records that are legally protected, sensitive, private, or confidential are exempt (not subject to disclosure)”

    Is there any reason that any of these besides “legally protected” ought to be on that list? Given some administrators’ recent overuse of the “confidential” stamp on memos, that seems like an awful lot of leeway.

  5. just different says:

    Glad to know Lim and Coltrane are making good on their pledge to reform access to public records. I think it might be time to file a public records request for any complaints from parents of dying children, etc., about their privacy being “violated” as a result of the December release of the presidential archives. Somehow I suspect there will be absolutely no responsive records, and for once that will be the truth.