Oregon State Archives in the News
International Group Visits the Oregon State Archives
Getting the grand tour
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury welcomed the visitors to the Oregon State Archives, which is a division of the Secretary of State's Office. During his brief remarks, Bradbury praised the international visitor program and said he hoped that the participants would learn a great deal from their visit to Oregon. State Archivist Mary Beth Herkert provided a tour of the Oregon State Records Center, a repository for non-permanent state records located in north Salem. Some of the visitors said that they were impressed with the WAVE machine used by records center staff to access higher shelves of records. Archives Manager Layne Sawyer gave a tour of the Archives Building. Part of the tour included showing the participants a copy of the original 1857 Oregon Constitution as well as the oldest record in the holdings, an agreement written in 1837. Senior Archivist Gary Halvorson wrapped up the tour by demonstrating resources on the Oregon State Archives Web site and discussing the role of the Archives in helping to make state and local government more understandable, accessible, and responsive.
The library professionals, all of whom spoke English, conversed informally with the staff of the Oregon State Archives while enjoying refreshments during a reception at the Archives Building. One participant, Ms. Sunita Uttamlal Vallabh of South Africa, described how the group first visited Washington D.C. and New York City before coming to Portland. Ms. Vallabh said that in addition to learning from the various field trips to Oregon libraries and related institutions, the very diverse group was learning a great deal from each other. "We have a lot more commonalities than differences," she said. Unfortunately, one of the most important commonalities for the participants is a general lack of funding for their libraries, and in some cases, not enough appreciation for the important role that libraries play in societies around the world.
The group is enjoying its stay in Oregon (June 18-22). At least one member, Ms. Batool Moosa Baqir of Oman, was happy about Oregon's cool and cloudy June days, saying that she sees more than enough hot and sunny days at home. However, some members did express disappointment in not having time to visit the Oregon Coast. As a consolation, a State Archives staff member showed them some pictures of the coast on the Archives' Web site, but some participants, tongue in cheek, protested that it was just cruel to show pictures of places they couldn't visit. Still, the group can look forward to the next stop on their American journey, a trip to New Orleans to attend the American Library Association's annual conference. Many members want to see the devastation from Hurricane Katrina first hand and learn about how recovery efforts, particularly with libraries, are proceeding.
About the participants
It would be difficult to gather 12 people from a more diverse set of countries than this group represents. The following is a list of their home countries and work environments:
Bangladesh: Mr. S.M. Zabed Ahmed, Associate Professor, Department of Information Science and Library Management, Dhaka University.
Croatia: Mr. Mladen Masar, Librarian and Public Relations Officer, Zadar City Library.
Hungary: Mr. Tamas Baranyai, Office Manager, American Corner, Veszprem, Hungary.
Kazakhstan: Ms.Sholpan S. Baimurzina, American Corner Coordinator, Oblast Universal Library, Karaganda.
Mexico: Ms. Carmen Yasmina Lopez Morales, Collection Development Coordinator, 'Daniel Cosio Villegas' Library at El Colegio de Mexico.
Nigeria: Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed Bichi, Librarian, Center for Democratic Research and Training, Bayero University.
Oman: Ms. Batool Moosa Baqir, Supervisor, Learning Resource Center, Ministry of Education.
Palestinian Authority: Mr. Saadeh B.S. Saadeh, Assistance in Collection Development (Acquisition) Department, Birzeit University Library, Birzeit.
Portugal: Mr. Jose Antonio Calixto Marques de Oliveira, Director, Public Library of Evora.
South Africa: Ms. Sunita Uttamlal Vallabh, Head of Northern Cape Provincial Library Services.
Tanzania: Ms. Amina Hilika, Director of Library Services for the State University of Zanzibar.
Turkey: Dr. Ahmet Yildiz, Deputy Director, Turkish Grand National Assembly Library Research Service.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and the entire Oregon State Archives staff would like to thank the international program organizers and especially the visitors for sharing their experiences and insights.