New oral history project at the Lake Oswego Library is picking up steam
by: CLIFF NEWELL Ready to roll on the library’s oral history project for Lake Oswego are reference librarians, from left, Fawn McGee, Carissa Barrett and Alicia Yokoyama.

The Lake Oswego Public Library is picking up where it left off with its new oral history project.

Once again, reference librarians and project volunteers are recording the many memories of some of this city's finest citizens, making sure that Lake Oswego's history does not fade away.

'We want to preserve this listening bank as a rich resource for the community to enjoy,' reference librarian Alicia Yokoyama said.

'It's fascinating,' said reference librarian Fawn McGee. 'Some people would think this would be boring, but it is so personal and interesting.'

So far, Yokoyama and McGee have interviewed five Lake Oswegans with excellent memories - Dorothy Stafford, Virginia Campbell, Suzanna Kuo, James Cook and Patrick Bloedorn.

They will be joined by many more, because, Yokoyama said, 'There is no end in sight for this project.'

That is good news to Kuo, who has already made a great contribution to preserving Lake Oswego's history, including her articles on the city's 'iron' past.

'I'm glad we're recognizing the importance of oral history,' Kuo said, 'because the opportunity to set down memories will disappear.'

The current project has an excellent foundation because the library conducted a previous oral history project as part of the American Bicentennial in 1976. The recordings of that time were collected in the book, 'In Their Own Words,' which is now on sale at the library.

The genesis for the new effort began with former longtime reference librarian Claire Kellogg, who was responsible for originating some of the library's most valuable projects. Kellogg got the ball rolling in 2001.

'They're picking up the thread, so to say,' said Kuo.

'Our goal is to pick up where the last one ended in the post 1940s,' McGee said.

Local history lovers can easily take advantage of this history memory bank by going to the library's website at and click on the button, 'In Their Own Words.' Of the 151 interviews recorded, each 45 to 50 minutes long, 90 of them are available.

People can just click, listen and learn.

Those who are interested in contributing to this history are asked to contact Yokoyama at 503-534-5285.

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