Fired Archivist James Fox tells his side of the UO Archives release

4/17/2015 PM update: The Library Journal has now updated its report on “the incident”, with statements from UO Library Dean Adriene Lim, here:

In January Harbaugh received a letter from Doug Blandy, senior vice provost for academic affairs. The letter stated that the material was provided to him in violation of state and federal law, and demanded that he return the USB drive to UO dean of libraries Adriene Lim, destroy any and all copies he had made, and remove any documents that he had posted online. “I was surprised at that because I always assumed that library circulation records were confidential,” Harbaugh told LJ. He added that he did not know how, or whether, Lim consulted the archivists.

“The incident itself,” Lim later explained to LJ, “was more of a data breach, because we have policies and procedures regarding the breach of FERPA-protected personal information…. What I really had to do was follow university policies.” By then, Bill Harbaugh had had the records in his possession for six weeks.

At that time Lim consulted with the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF). In a letter to UO administration dated February 17, director of ALA OIF Barbara Jones stated, “we believe it was ethically appropriate for Dr. Lim to report a data breach and to focus only on the breach itself and the alarming amount of confidential information that was leaked.”

“Leaked” has some negative connotations these days. These documents were not leaked. I got them by making a request by email, from my official U of O email address to the UO Special Collections and Archives reference desk, and agreeing to the usual boilerplate about confidentiality.

Ms Jones never contacted me before sending this letter supporting Ms Lim’s actions and calling this a leak. In fact I still haven’t seen the full text of it. Dean Lim has refused to release it and other relevant documents unless I pay $210 in public records fees:

The ALA ethics code is very explicit about not releasing circulation records except under a court order, and only after the librarian has verified that order. The policy could not possibly be clearer:

2. Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power. (

However, the ALA website also notes that the ALA does not do ethics investigations or otherwise enforce its code of ethics. It gives some good explanations and history for this policy. Perhaps this inadequately researched and hasty letter from ALA Director Jones should be added to the list of examples, here:

4/17/2015 AM: Two very powerful stories today on the UO administration’s scapegoating of Archives Director James Fox, from Diane Dietz in the RG and Rich Read in the Oregonian. Well worth reading all of both, I am only posting a few extracts:

From the Oregonian:  Archivist James Fox says UO Interim President Scott Coltrane’s team betrayed, scapegoated him

University of Oregon archivist blamed and terminated after a massive records release deemed “unlawful” by UO’s interim president said Thursday he had nothing to do with the debacle and is being scapegoated.

James Fox, head of the UO Special Collections and University Archives, said during an interview in Portland that Interim President Scott Coltrane‘s office should be responsible, as the “creating office,” for vetting records to remove confidential information concerning students, faculty and staff members.

Instead, Fox said, Coltrane’s office transferred the responsibility to librarians in a written agreement that Fox wasn’t shown. Kira Homo — a lower-level digital archivist, who has since resigned after also being suspended with pay — released the 30,000 pages digitally without telling Fox they weren’t vetted, he said.

Fox’s Portland lawyer, Craig Crispin, said he has filed notice to warn that the archivist may sue the university, which, the attorney wrote, has “irreparably damaged Mr. Fox in his professional standing and occupational reputation by placing him in a public false light.”

Fox said that since arriving at the university in 2000 he had attracted large donations and numerous authors’ papers to the UO Libraries, diversifying collections to include material from prominent African American, Latino and native American writers.

Since then, Fox said, he repeatedly warned superiors that records management was a disaster waiting to happen.

“I love my job and I love the University of Oregon,” Fox said. “I’m shocked and hurt that I’m in this position right now. I’ve been a very loyal employee. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Fox’s interview, although solely from his perspective, sheds light on some of the mysteries and accusations surrounding the controversial records release. While Coltrane pointedly faulted archivists during a Feb. 13 interview, UO spokespersons have disclosed few specifics, at times citing legal prohibitions against commenting on personnel matters.

But UO publicists have also refused to release a full investigative report produced by a law firm hired by the university. That report is almost certainly a public document under Oregon’s open-records law. …

From the RG: Former UO archivist James Fox tells his side of his dismissal

The library was being deluged with electronic archival material, Fox said. The mass of material was so great that there was no way special collections could vet or even organize the data, he said.

Archivists nationally are struggling with the same problem, he said.

The backlog for vetting and organizing material got so long, scholars couldn’t get to what they needed for years.

So libraries, including the Knight Library, instituted a system that required patrons using special collections to sign a document that said there may be confidential personal material in the collection they’re requesting, and they agree not to publish the information.

“You as a research have a responsibility, if you find something like that, to alert us immediately and not to use it. The burden is on you. People sign off on that,” Fox said.

In the meantime, Fox said he sounded an alarm. His eight-person department was not equipped to guarantee that personal information or other confidential information was held back from release.

A routine review of the library by outside experts in 2013 found the library was understaffed and took on too many responsibilities for the wider campus.

…  “I remained pretty clear headed and clear of heart because I knew I had done nothing wrong. That’s what sustained me through this,” he said.

In the weeks since Fox’s removal became public, supporters have submitted letters of support to The Register-Guard editorial page.

This week, more than 100 faculty members signed a letter asking the university to renew Fox’s contract.

Nationally recognized science fiction author Ursula Le Guin, who has given her papers to the university, published and open letter.

Fox has done a “superlative” job, she wrote.

“As for responsibility, reliability, honesty: He is in charge of all my papers including those that are and must kept private, and I trust him completely, unquestioningly, with that charge,” Le Guin wrote.

His dismissal “is an egregious error in judgment and in justice,” she wrote.

Library Journal addresses archive release, letter supporting James Fox

Lisa Peet has the story in the Library Journal, here:

… Fox, previously a non–tenure track associate professor in UO’s history department and the university’s Robert D. Clark Honors College, had been the director of UO special collections and university archives since 1999. He worked with such noted collections as the papers of authors Ursula K. LeGuin and Ken Kesey. “Under James Fox’s leadership,” the letter of support noted, “Special Collections and University Archives—recognizing the lack of a viable records management program at the UO—created the first position in records management on this campus, located it in the library, and raised funds for it.” …

UO Attorney William F. Gary, Esquire, demands more retractions over Presidential Archives investigation

4/20/2015 update: Please see the retractions posted at

4/15/2015 PM update: I’ve made a public records request to UO, in an effort to obtain some hard data and get to the bottom of all this back and forth between Mr. Gary and me:

From: Bill Harbaugh <>
Subject: PR request, Presidential Archives release documents
Date: April 15, 2015 at 11:09:39 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <> Cc: doug park <>, Interim President Coltrane <>,

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for

a) all billing invoices from the HLGR and Hershner Hunter law firms to the UO, dated from 1/1/2015 to the present, and

b) any communications between UO President’s office or General Counsel employees and outside attorneys or consultants relevant to the preparation of the attached “Records Incident Report”, apparently written by HLGR attorney Sharon Rudnick, regarding the UO Presidential Archives release.

I’m ccing Interim GC Doug Park as he should be able to easily provide many of these documents. Otherwise, I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

4/15/2015 AM: My apparently inadequate retraction of the original post is here. Since then I’ve received two additional emails from Mr. Gary, who is representing HLGR and UO lawyers Sharon Rudnick and Randy Geller. I will send and post a response to Mr. Gary’s additional demands promptly.

April 1, 2015, full letter here:

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April 10, 2015, full letter here:

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More than 100 faculty sign letter for James Fox, fired by Adriene Lim

4/13/2015: The RG has more, with additional quotes and explanation, here.

4/12/2015: Rich Read has the story in the Oregonian, here:

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More than 100 University of Oregon faculty members have signed a letter urging reinstatement of an archivist suspended after a records release that UO’s interim president called unlawful.

The continuing controversy, and debate over weakened confidentiality at UO’s counseling center, are setting administrators’ nerves on edge as a presidential search enters a critical stage. Trustees don’t want divisiveness to rile candidates as they discuss which of four finalists to pick as the university’s next leader….

From the faculty letter of support:

3 April 2015

We write as members of the UO community to protest the firing of James Fox and to express our entire support of his work for the University over many years.

James Fox has been an extraordinary member of the University of Oregon community and the state, and we are stunned by the university’s treatment of this valued colleague.

We know that the University conducted an investigation around the circumstances surrounding the release of electronic documents from the President’s Office. The full results of that investigation have not been made public.

We are aware, however, that there is a long and deep backstory to the chaos around records management. The situation that resulted in the termination of James Fox’s employment at the university is indicative of these longstanding problems and should motivate the university to finally resolve the issues, not terminate committed and effective employees. …

AG Rosenblum avoids direct reference to Shelly Kerr and Doug Park, in endorsing bill to keep counseling records private

4/4/2015 update: Shelly Kerr is the UO Counseling Center Director who handed over Jane Doe’s counseling records, at the request of Interim UO GC Doug Park. New legislation would make that illegal. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum on the RG Op-Ed page:

We like to think of college as a wonderful time of growth and learning. The reality in Oregon, however, is that college can be a very dangerous period for too many young women.

Recent events have given our students a good reason to worry that when they have been sexually assaulted and want to have the benefit of victims’ support and counseling services, they cannot trust their college to protect their privacy. That is because Oregon is one of only 10 states without confidentiality protections for victims seeking services from domestic violence or sexual assault advocates.

It is time for Oregon to step forward and ensure the privacy of victims’ communications and records. We know that many students who have been sexually assaulted are choosing not to seek critically needed help. Studies indicate that the primary reason victims of sexual assault do not come forward is that they fear disclosure of extremely private and potentially embarrassing information — without their consent. All too often, this fear is justified. …

4/3/2015 update: Students rally in support of Karen Stokes and transparency

Ally Brayton has the story in the Emerald here, and Diane Dietz has more in the RG here:

Dozens of University of Oregon students rallied at noon Friday in support of a counseling center employee who says she was fired because she was a whistleblower.

Karen Stokes, who was executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced she had been terminated in a March 26 e-mail sent to counseling center staff.

The reason, she said in the e-mail, was her public criticism of the university’s “unethical” collection of a student’s therapy records in preparation for litigation.

A UO spokesman said a week ago that Stokes wasn’t fired but merely “transitioning.”

On Friday, spokeswoman Julie Brown said Stokes is still in the university’s employ, but Brown couldn’t say in what position or capacity or whether her job was permanent or temporary. …

3/26/2015 update: It’s looking more and more like the story goes like this: UCTC Director Shelly Kerr told Karen Stokes she was fired. Stokes wrote the email in the RG story and sent it to the UCTC staff and the RG. Klinger was out of the loop, perhaps because he just was, perhaps because the admins don’t trust his judgement after his disastrous press release on the archivists. Someone in JH read the post on my blog or the RG website. They quickly told Kerr to back off, told Stokes they’d find her a job somewhere else at UO if she’d stop talking to reporters, and told Klinger to feed this to the press, pronto.

Update: The RG story has now been updated with a challenge from Duck Advocate and Presidential Spokesperson Tobin Klinger of Ms Stokes’s description of events. Purely coincidental, Klinger seems to think. Of course Klinger also thought UO wasn’t filing a counterclaim against the survivor of the alleged basketball gang rape – or at least that’s what he told reporters.

Continue reading

Governor’s office releases 94,000 Cylvia Hayes emails, attorney-client privileged docs

Wow, that’s 3x more than what UO says was in the 20 years of Presidential Archives they made me return. Laura Gunderson has the story in the Oregonian, here:

Kristen Grainger, spokeswoman for Gov. Kate Brown, wrote in an email that some of the documents released today were labeled “internal advisory” and might normally be exempted.

However, she wrote, “Governor Brown believes that, in view of the unique and historic circumstances surrounding these particular documents, the strong weight of the public interest justifies the release of these records.”

And Saul Hubbard reports in the RG that claims of attorney-client privilege were mostly false:

Brown’s office said it released all emails deemed public records, including a number of documents labeled attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client communications usually aren’t subject to disclosure under Oregon’s public records law, but Brown’s office said those emails were incorrectly labeled as privileged communications.

Brown’s office said they are withholding a “small number of documents” that are “legitimately covered by the attorney-client privilege.”

Klinger and Rudnick’s statements raise questions about UO’s treatment of archivists

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:

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:

James Fox was treated shamefully

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.


Director’s dismissal was unjustified

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.



Treatment of archivist was despotic

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 <>
To: Lisa Thornton <>

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.

Why did Doug Park go wacko over the Presidential Archives release?

4/20/2015 update: Please see the retractions posted at

Update: Meanwhile Gov. Kate Brown has sent an email to all state workers, praising the DAS employees who refused to delete the emails between Kitzhaber and his attorney – and then leaked them to Willamette Week. WWeek report here. Quite a difference from how Park and Coltrane handled the “unlawful release” of UO Presidential Archives.

3/24/2015: Because it could have cost the HLGR law firm, and Park’s former boss and friend Randy Geller, a lucrative contract?

Geller was fired by Mike Gottfredson in April 2014, apparently over his handling of the alleged basketball gang rape. Geller then went to work for the Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick law firm.

On Jan 4th 2015, I posted Geller’s “attorney-client confidential and privileged” advice on how to dissolve the UO Senate, which I got from UO’s Presidential Archives:

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Pretty bad stuff. After I made this public, the UO administration quickly repudiated Geller’s plan. Dave Hubin even offered to share the admin’s emails rejecting this plan. It’s funny-sad how Hubin is so puppy-dog eager to provide public records that might make his bosses look good, while at the same time he’s using fees and delays to hide public records that might make them look bad.

After Geller got hired at HLGR, he brought in a contract to provide legal advice to the new Boards of Trustees for Oregon’s “Regional and Technical Universities”: Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, Western Oregon, and the Oregon Institute of Technology. In response to a PR request, OUS quickly provided the basic billing information:

The OUS Chancellor’s Office has paid $20,260.32 to the Harrang Long firm for work Randy Geller has done under this contract. This piece of your records request is being provided at no charge. If you would still like a copy of the contract and billing invoices, kindly remit the estimated charge and I will start work on that as other pending work and time allow.

Thank you.

Ginger Shaw, Executive Assistant
OUS Chancellor’s Office

If you were a new TRU board member, would you want your legal advice about your board and shared governance to come from Randy Geller, knowing he wrote this? If you were an administrator who wanted the faculty to believe you had a commitment to shared governance, would you hire he guy who tried to dissolve UO’s, if this document was out in public?

And if you were Randy Geller, or a partner at HLGR, would you be worried about what other damaging documents from Geller might be in the Presidential Archives?

So did HLGR’s concerns about Geller drive Interim President Scott Coltrane’s over-the-top reaction to the release of the Presidential Archives, including his prejudicial email calling this an “unlawful release” of documents? I don’t know, and I’m guessing UO will never release the public records that might show what really happened.

Will Library Dean Lim and Coltrane deliver on transparency?

3/17/2014 update: I went to the Library Committee’s meeting today. Dean Adriene Lim was adamant that she was not trying to avoid Senate review of the new library privacy policy, and that as far as she was concerned the Library Committee was the Senate, since it’s a Senate committee, but that she was fully willing to go through the regular Senate policy on policies.

She said had been told that AVP Chuck Triplett was the “guru” for UO policies, and so she asked him how to proceed. As you can see below, Triplett thought that there was no need for this privacy policy to go through the Senate process. Given that the administration’s motivation for this policy arose out of LibraryGate, or as they now call it, “the incident”, Triplett should have known better than to advise Lim to try and slip this through on the side.

This is from the OSU library’s privacy policy:

Patron information is strictly confidential. It is for the use of library staff only; it can, of course, be divulged to the patron. Patron information is not to be given to non-library individuals, including parents, friends, professors, university administrators, police, FBI, university security staff, or the CIA. Only a court order can require the disclosure of patron records. The university librarian is responsible for compliance with such orders.

Needless to say UO’s proposed new policy (in full below) is a lot weaker:

When a violation of law or established policy is suspected, the Libraries reserves the right to electronically monitor its public computers and network, and/or reveal a user’s identity to institutional authorities and/or law enforcement.

Frankly, it reads as a post-hoc justification for Lim’s decision to disclose my circulation records to the administration. I told Lim I thought this would be problematic, and that she should at least consider having something concrete to take to the Senate about implementing the promises that were made to the Senate about general review of UO’s public records problems, or perhaps something about the documents that were *not* in UO’s Presidential Archives – e.g. athletics money deals – and therefore were lost to history (yes, I did mention Hillary Clinton).

FWIW, the RegisterGuard report on that Senate meeting is here.

… The UO’s new dean of libraries, Adriene Lim, told the gathered faculty on Wednesday that she considers an individual’s right to privacy to be a universal human right.

But she also said that Oregon public records laws “spell out types of records that should be public and available for scrutiny. I’d be the first one to advocate for that openness and ­transparency.”

Coltrane and Lim said the issue of transparency will be reviewed by university officials after Hershner Hunter completes its investigation. [UO M: I’ve made a public records request to Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office for the contract showing what UO’s Interim General Counsel Doug Park has asked HH to do. No response yet.]

The university will “try to increase openness and transparency as much as we can,” Lim said. Coltrane said he’d bring the university’s Office of Public Records to the table.

Harbaugh said Wednesday that that’s what he had in mind when he sought the presidential documents at the archive – after being thwarted by the public records office.

He said he had no intention of violating student privacy laws or damaging the university.

“I’m trying to make a point about the university’s obsessive secrecy, about how it functions, makes decisions and operates as a public agency,” Harbaugh said.

3/12/2014: AVP Chuck Triplett advises Library Dean Adriene Lim that new Library privacy policy can bypass Senate review

Thanks to several people for leaking this email and proposed policy to UO Matters. Page down to see how it evolves as it gets exposed to the light of day. It’s now circulating on the Senate listserv, and we will be taking steps to

a) ensure Dean Lim does not implement this policy without Senate approval, and
b) ensure Chuck Triplett is monitored, to prevent future attempts to subvert the Policy on Policies.

Still no information on how Lim will deal with public records that were removed from the Presidential Archives by Johnson Hall.

The UO Board reaffirmed the PonP just last week. Triplett didn’t waste any time breaking it:

Date: March 11, 2015 at 9:20:07 AM PDT
To: Adriene Lim , …
Subject: Library privacy policy draft – latest version

Dear ULC members,

I’ve heard back from Chuck Triplett and he advises me that he doesn’t think our new Privacy Policy rises to the level of an “institutional policy.” This means that the draft would not need to go through more layers of review in the way that other institutional policies are reviewed. He thinks that, after we go through our library-level review, the policy can just be posted on our website.

Library faculty still have until March 16, 2015, to provide input and comments, but I wanted to share with you the latest version of the draft because it contains two new sections that were added last week: 1.) a section was added to address the security cameras we have in our Special Collections & University Archives area. These cameras are not new — they’ve been in place for a while, but the Libraries had not finalized a policy regarding them yet); 2.) a few sentences were added to address the privacy audit and compliance concerns that were raised at our last ULC meeting. When the policy is finalized, the Libraries will conduct an audit of systems and services to make sure that we are complying with our own policy.

If you have any final comments about this latest draft, please let me know by March 16, 2015. Thank you for your help with this.

Best regards,

Adriene Lim, Ph.D., MLIS
Dean of Libraries
Philip H. Knight Chair
University of Oregon Libraries
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1299
Phone: 541-346-1892

Note: After I sent this email to Lim and cced the Senate listserv, she sent out an email changing her mind and deciding to ignore Triplett, and send this policy through the regular PAC process, which will bring it to the Senate.

Here’s the policy in dispute:

Continue reading

Library Dean Adriene Lim wants $210.63 to produce archives docs

I’ve followed with an email to PR asking for the price on just part b), and to Dean Lim, asking if she’ll provide these directly. No response from either, yet.

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “a) documents from external reviewers, consultants or advisors relating to UO’s Archives and Records Management procedures and resources, from 2009 to the present, and b) documents or emails sent or received by UO Library Dean Adriene Lim relating to UO’s Archives and Records Management procedures and resources, from the start of her employment at UO to the present”, on 02/26/2015, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $210.63. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

The university has received your request for a fee waiver for these records. The decision to waive or reduce fees is discretionary with the public body. After considering your request below, the office does not consider that the totality of the circumstances you presented meets the standard for a fee waiver. …

UO Dean Adriene Lim’s disclosure of circulation records violated university policy

2/27/2015 update: UO Dean Adriene Lim’s disclosure of circulation records violated university policy. Disclosure of confidential information is a serious crime so make sure you have something like Record Storage Document Management in place if you own a company.
Oregon State Library policy, that is:

Confidentiality of Records

Policy on Disclosure of Patron Records

The Oregon State University Libraries follow Oregon state law, which exempts libraries from public disclosure of “the records of a library, including circulation records, showing use of specific library material by a named person or consisting of the name of a library patron together with the address or telephone number, or both, of the patron.” (ORS 192.502, 22)


Patron information is strictly confidential. It is for the use of library staff only; it can, of course, be divulged to the patron. Patron information is not to be given to non-library individuals, including parents, friends, professors, university administrators, police, FBI, university security staff, or the CIA. Only a court order can require the disclosure of patron records. The university librarian is responsible for compliance with such orders.

2/2/015: Did Dean of Libraries Adriene Lim violate the ALA confidentiality policy?

This is obviously a very painful and professionally difficult bind for Dean Lim to find herself in, after just 6 months on the job. On the one hand she’s got her new bosses telling her to “name names”, on the other hand she’s got the ethical responsibilities laid out by the ALA and the need to keep the trust of her colleagues, and her professional reputation.

FWIW the best summary of LibraryGate, and what it means for the larger issues of UO transparency and governance, is still the RG Editorial from Jan 24.

Here’s Pres Coltrane and Dean of Libraries Adriene Lim at the Senate on Jan 28:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.47.18 PM

I asked for these presidential archives from the library because Dave Hubin’s Public Record’s Office has made it more and more difficult to get information about UO. Fees, delays, and redactions frustrate even the most simple requests. No transparency, no trust. I figured the Archives should have something. So I asked.

Both Coltrane and Lim say some encouraging things, about the balance between privacy and disclosure and the need for UO to improve its Public Records compliance. We’ll see if he follows through. I’ve been talking to a lot of reporters this week, from Oregon and nationally. They all say Oregon is the worst university they’ve ever dealt with when it comes to public records/FOIA.

My expectation was that this request to the library archives would be confidential. Oregon Public Records law contains a specific exemption for library circulation records, and the official ALA policy on circulation records and other records that might identify patrons says:

The Council of the American Library Association strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library, cooperative system, and consortium in the United States:

    1. Formally adopt a policy that specifically recognizes its circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users to be confidential. (See also ALA Code of Ethics, Article III, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received, and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted” and Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.)
    2. Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.
    3. Resist the issuance of enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

1Note: Point 3, above, means that upon receipt of such process, order, or subpoena, the library’s officers will consult with their legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is in proper form and if there is a showing of good cause for its issuance; if the process, order, or subpoena is not in proper form or if good cause has not been shown, they will insist that such defects be cured.

Adopted January 20, 1971, by the ALA Council; amended July 4, 1975; July 2, 1986.

[ISBN 8389-6082-0]

I’m no lawyer, but that’s a damn strong policy. But apparently someone in the UO administration asked Library Dean Adriene Lim if I had obtained the Geller memo from the presidential archives, and she told them that I had. Here’s her effort to claim this wasn’t in violation of the above:

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Lim says that since it was a internal investigation, it was OK to hand over the circulation records. She also addresses the obligation to keep personnel investigations confidential.

Coltrane’s subsequent email to the entire UO faculty list, saying that there had been an unlawful data release, and that 2 archivists (of the 5 in the office) have been put on leave, is a brick or two shy of confidential.

Coltrane – or whoever wrote it – must have known the archivists names would soon become public. I don’t want to judge prematurely, but this sure sounds like intimidation, retaliation, and prejudicial judgement by UO.

Presumably the extent of Ms Lim’s resistance to the order from the UO administration for the release of my circulation records will become clear during the Hershner Hunter investigation that Amanda Walkup is leading. On that note, let’s find out what they’ve been contracted to investigate:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.41.34 AM

No response from Hubin’s office yet. Also no response to this request – which anyone with a BANNER account can pull in a few minutes. (But don’t! Word is UO logs all BANNER access.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 3.18.08 PM

UO President’s Office staff to face discipline for deleting documents from Archives

Just kidding, that will never happen, and this situation is not funny.

The latest Rich Read report in the Oregonian doesn’t have anything about what documents the President’s Office is hiding from the public. This is despite the fact that many emails in the Presidential Archives, about matters clearly related to the public’s business, mention attachments that were not in the archives. Other things that clearly should have been in the archives – e.g. documents and correspondence about Knight Arena funding – were not. Or at least I couldn’t find them. They should be there somewhere because I’m sure that their workers would have made multiple digital copies with Document Imaging Software, that can be found at places like Filecenter for certainty. Surely the idea of them being lost would have been taken into consideration, and so surely multiple copies must’ve been made? But like I said, I can’t find them.

CAS Dean Andrew Marcus gave me VPAA Doug Blandy’s takedown letter at 5:10 PM on Jan 20th. At that point the administration knew almost nothing about what was in the Archives or how I had obtained them. The administration’s normal response in these situations is “we can’t comment about a discipline matter under investigation”. Instead they sent out the prejudicial email below, just 2.5 hours later.

And now, having prejudged the decision by the UO Archives to release the Presidential Archives as “unlawful” in his off-the-hip email, Interim President Coltrane needs to find some scapegoats to make that hasty judgement look true.

The chances that this will be followed by an investigation of what Johnson Hall has hid from the public are pretty slim.

Date: January 20, 2015 at 7:39:38 PM PST
From: “President’s Office” Reply-To:
Subject: Archive release investigation

Dear Colleagues,

We have recently learned that a significant number of archived records from the President’s Office have been unlawfully released. These records contain confidential information about faculty, staff and students, but our current understanding is that no social security numbers, financial information or medical records were shared.

We have launched an investigation of the incident, and we have put staff members on administrative leave, pending that investigation. The information was sent to a university professor, and we have already requested that the professor return the information and refrain from any public release of confidential information. To our knowledge, only one record has been shared externally at this point.

We are committed to taking steps to mitigate the potential injury associated with this situation.


Scott Coltrane, Interim President

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

More embarrassing letters from Presidential Archives released

2/15/2015: The NYT has the story, here. Oh wait, these letters are from Jeb Bush, found in his Dad’s presidential archives. Never mind.

Meanwhile, still no word on the outcome of Amanda Walkup’s investigation of the UO presidential archive release, which Coltrane told the UO faculty was “unlawful” before she was even hired. But we do now know that Doug Park didn’t put her instructions in writing.

2/12/2015: Jaquiss: UO’s Doug Park asked archives to destroy thousands of emails

Oh wait, this Nigel Jaquiss story is about John Kitzhaber trying to destroy emails. Sorry, in WWeek, here.