Research Library Renovation

The Oregon Historical Society Research Library is currently undergoing an extensive renovation that will improve the visitor experience for our researchers and allow visitors to engage with our collections in new and exciting ways. As the renovation nears completion, we will continue to serve the public through our digital resources and digitization services. Read on for other important FAQs about the library renovation.

Library Renovation FAQs

Updated August 1, 2021

Will I still be able to do research and access collections during the renovation?
We will soon be moving collections back to our downtown reading room in anticipation of reopening the library to in-person research. To allow the library staff to prepare for this extensive move, reference and research services are temporarily suspended as of August 1, 2021. In the meantime, we invite you to explore our extensive and growing online resources, including our digital history projects like The Oregon Encyclopedia and our digital collections. We look forward to serving you in our new space later this fall. Please keep an eye on this page for the latest news around reopening and the restoration of services.

Can I still order historic photographs during the renovation?
Although reference services are currently suspended, we are continuing to provide digital image reproduction services. Access to the library collection, however, is limited, and turnaround time on orders may be slower than normal. Please contact photoorders@ohs.org for more information. For more information on the full array of the library's digitization services, including film and sound, please visit the Reproduction and Research Services page.

Are you accepting donations to the library collection during the renovation?
We are unable to accept donations to the library’s collection, review potential donations, or respond to donations inquiries until further notice. 

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, 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. You can also browse over 34,000 digitized photographs, manuscripts, and oral histories online via OHS Digital Collections.

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.