Research Library Renovation

The Oregon Historical Society Research Library is embarking on an extensive renovation this year that will improve the visitor experience for our researchers and allow visitors to engage with our collections in new and exciting ways. During the renovation, we are committed to continuing to provide access to library collections at a temporary location by appointment. Read on for other important FAQs about the library renovation.

Library Renovation FAQs

Will I still be able to do research and access collections during the renovation?
Yes! While the downtown reading room is closed through late 2020, researchers will still be able to access collections by appointment at an alternate location beginning in March 2020. We encourage you to send research questions to our reference librarians at libreference@ohs.org. Note that service will be limited in January and February 2020 as staff and collections move out of the downtown facility to prepare for the renovation.

Can I still order historic photographs during the renovation?
Yes! Photo services will be business as usual throughout the entire renovation; please fill out a Reproduction Order Form and email it to photoorders@ohs.org. Researchers can still conduct in-person photo research when they schedule an appointment to visit our temporary location. A selection of historic photo prints are also available for purchase in the OHS Museum Store.

Why are you renovating? What should I expect when the library re-opens?
The library has occupied the same home for over 50 years: the fourth floor of the Oregon Historical Society building on SW Park Avenue. In that time, the space has remained relatively untouched. Changes in library best practices and technological upgrades make this renovation a long overdue enhancement to our research library, which is the heart of everything we do at the Oregon Historical Society. Without our priceless collections, and the individuals who have preserved and stewarded these collections for over 120 years, our exhibitions, scholarship, educational programs, and public programs would not be possible.

When the research library reopens in late 2020, researchers can look forward to enhancements including:

  • A refreshed Reading Room that will highlight the library’s striking mid-century architecture, as well as become a flexible space for hosting workshops and programs;
  • A Tech Hub that will allow several researchers at a time to explore OHS collections in a variety of historical and contemporary media — from VHS to digital files;
  • A Collaborative Learning Lab that will serve as a creative, flexible space where small groups of students, educators, researchers, community members, and archives professionals can share knowledge, explore the library’s vast resources, and make new discoveries that expand our knowledge about Oregon’s complex history;
  • A reconfigured reference desk that will give staff a better vantage point to both serve the public and safeguard the precious materials in our care;
  • Americans with Disabilities Act–compliant bathroom facilities and private all-gender restroom options;
  • A Map and Architecture Viewing station to create a central access point to digitized and original materials from our enormous collection of documents that have charted the Oregon we see today;
  • Twenty-first-century behind-the-scenes workspaces that will give OHS staff the space and technology they need to preserve and make collections available for the next 120 years; and
  • The new Pietro Belluschi Architectural Resource Center, which will provide a focal point for the study of architecture and a well-equipped meeting space for instruction.

Are there other ways I can access Oregon history online during the renovation?
Yes! We encourage you to learn about the people, places, and events that have shaped Oregon history through our online Oregon Encyclopedia, the Oregon History Project, and the Oregon History Wayfinder. Browse over 24,000 digitized photographs, manuscripts, and oral histories online via OHS Digital Collections, and search library collections through our online catalog.

How can I support this project?
Thanks to support from individuals and foundations through the FORWARD! campaign, this critical renovation will allow library staff to better serve researchers who visit OHS in person as well as more efficiently answer the thousands of research inquiries we receive by email and phone each year. If you are interested in joining the many generous donors who have made this renovation possible, please consider purchasing an engraved brick memorializing or commemorating a loved one in our museum through January 2020. All brick donations will support the research library renovation.