January 28, 2022

Interview: Archivist James Fox Says U. of Oregon Interim President’s Team Betrayed, Scapegoated Him

From The Oregonian:

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.


Until Thursday, Fox had repeatedly declined to comment on the Dec. 3, 2014, records release, which caused a campus uproar and led archivists nationwide to reexamine how they handle and provide information. But Fox spoke, with his lawyer present, during a two-and-a-half-hour interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive and the Register-Guard, Eugene’s daily newspaper.


Fox said he’s proud that Special Collections are becoming a nationally prominent repository for science fiction written by well-known women authors.

One of those famous authors, Ursula Le Guin, circulated an open letter Tuesday to Coltrane and other administrators supporting Fox. Le Guin, of Portland, wrote that instead of profiting from her literary papers, she had been donating them for many years to Special Collections.

“The Library has consistently handled my papers well, but since Mr. Fox came to be in charge of Special Collections, the job has been superlative,” Le Guin 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.”

Read the Complete Article/Interview (Approx. 2500 Words)

See Also: Faculty Rallies to Support University of Oregon Archivist (by Lisa Peet, Library Journal; April 16, 2015)

See Also: University of Oregon Asks Professor Stop Reading and Return Copies of 22,000 University Documents 7 Weeks After Obtained From Library (Jan. 26, 2015)

See Also: Vitae of James Fox (via U. of Oregon)



About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.