When approval for the construction of a new library at Western Oregon University was received in 1997, then President Betty Youngblood authorized a major fund-raising effort to supplement the large private donation already received as well as state funding and bonding authority. As part of that fundraising effort, a proposal was developed to honor former Oregon Governor Robert W. Straub, at that time a resident of West Salem in Polk County. After discussions with the Governor and Mrs. Straub, family members, friends and former colleagues, and other interested parties, it was decided to raise money for a Robert W. Straub Archives and Special Collections area in the new library. The architects for the building developed a plan for a complex of rooms that included a gallery and exhibit area, reading/conference room, staff workroom, and climate and humidity-controlled storage room. This project developed late in the design process and was aided by concerns expressed by President Youngblood about the main entrance and facade of the building. The architect's response was to add a large portico to the West face of the building, and that gave us the opportunity to propose the large reading/conference room and the nearby spaces.
A special fundraising effort was set up with Loren Wyss, a retired Portland investor, as the chair of the committee to raise funds for the construction of the Straub Archives and Special Collections area. The goal for the effort was to raise $500,000. In the end, donors gave over $300,000, and that was enough to ensure the completion of the suite of rooms that would not only house papers relating to Governor Straub's career but also accommodate the University Archives collection. For the opening of the Library, an exhibit was developed with selected items from the Straub family collections. As time went by, more Straub materials were placed on loan by the family, a Straub Archives Advisory Board was established with semi-annual meetings, an archivist was hired on a temporary appointment, and an oral history program was established to document the accomplishments of Governor Straub, his administration, and his programs. Funding came from grant monies, foundations, private donations, and Western Oregon University. Donations of other papers and collections have come from associates of Governor Straub.
During the years since the new library was dedicated, Library and Media Services staff have worked to process the Straub family materials. Some items have been digitized, others have been preserved in acid-free containers, and some cataloging work has been done. In addition to the oral history project, the Straub Archives Advisory Board has directed the development of a new concept, the Oregon Leadership Project (see the White Paper attached). Another focus of activity is to gain stability for the funding of a professional archivist to lead the development of the Straub Archives collection.
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