Daily Archives: February 11, 2019

The OSU Libraries and Press Community Interviewing Project

This post is an interview conducted with Tyger Gruber.  Tyger collected oral histories as part of the Oregon State University Libraries and Press Community Interviewing Project. The project seeks to build community and reduce silos within OSULP by capturing the stories of those who work for the organization. A secondary ambition of the project is to document institutional history for use by future researchers.

A little bit about Tyger:  Hey, I’m a 21-year-old Kinesiology major at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Science. I released an album (Too Busy Dreaming To Fall Asleep), published a novel (Just A Page Away), and am currently writing my second feature screenplay. Aside from my position at SCARC, I work for a researcher/professor at OSU, helping with his projects and work with Jackson Street Youth Shelter. In my free time, I love to play Go (also known as Baduk), Badminton, Starcraft, and anything that involves strategy with a large skill cap. When it boils down to it, I love to learn, grow, and apply the skills I’ve cultivated. I am getting married to my lovely spouse, and after college I have no clue what I’ll be doing with my life. Possibly travel, possibly work, possibly fight for the rights of the proletariat. It’s up in the air. I’m grateful to be alive and surrounded by fresh air, clean water, and loving people. To anyone reading this, if I only have a few sentences to impact your life, I’d say to keep in mind that a raindrop never feels responsible for the flood, remember that your money and attention as a consumer shapes the world, and to do your best to promote good and ignore evil. We judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions, so be kind and give people the benefit of doubt. Spend time cherishing those around you, be kind on yourself, and do the best you can. Nobody’s going to make it out alive and the dinosaurs are only remembered for their bones, so let go of your mistakes and enjoy the time you’ve got. My favorite quote is by a writer on his deathbed and it goes something like “My whole life I knew that everyone died someday, but in the back of my head I always thought I’d be the exception.” In other words, everyone thinks their internal monologue is the most vivid and their story the greatest, so let people have their time. Lift others up and enjoy your own achievements. Lastly, in the words of Desiderata (my favorite poem, read it if you have the time), “Be yourself.”

Tell me a little bit about the project and what interested you in this job?
The project is the brainchild of Chris Peterson, who wanted to capture what life was like in 2018 as an OSU Valley Library worker; and I think he accomplished what he set out to. I was interested in the job because it meant I got to apply my knowledge and love for audio engineering and recording, along with meeting new people and listening to their stories. 
Had you done oral histories before?
I had not, but now I have! 
What surprised you about the interviews you conducted for the project?
The first dozen people I interviewed would refer to people I’ve never met in their interviews, but as they progressed I was pleasantly surprised to interview the people previously mentioned, and hear them talk about people I’ve already met. It quickly became an interconnected web of people with a common goal that all helped shape each other’s lives for the better.
What did you learn about interviewing?
Interviewing is a skill that requires time to become comfortable with. This involves making the interviewee feel as comfortable talking to you and the microphone as possible, speaking as clearly as possible and rolling with the punches when they mention something out of the ordinary that would be useful to have further information on. I learned that interviewing is an art that I would like to learn more about.
How did you select interviewees?
Chris Peterson selected interviewees based upon their connection to The Valley Library.
How did you prepare?
I prepared by memorizing the questions so they would feel and sound more natural during the interview, and with retired folks, I would read over their Vita so I would know which direction to steer the interview in.
What were some of the issues you encountered in conducting the oral histories?
There were a few blunders on my part. During one interview, the recorder didn’t start and a couple minutes in I had to ask to restart the interview. Another time the entire interview file got corrupted and nearly had to be redone, but luckily was recovered. There were a few times when planning went out the door and rescheduling had to happen, but overall it went smooth and the vast majority of interviews were wonderful.
What were some of the things you learned in the course of conducting the interviews?
I learned that people’s stories are even more diverse than I used to conceive. That every workplace is a web of lives connected by various encounters. And that there’s quite a lot of history in the present.
How did the interviews shift your perspective? 
The interviews shifted my perspective on libraries. They are not what they’re made out to be in movies and stories, but rather workplaces filled with individuals motivated toward a common goal.

Interested in learning more or listening to the oral histories?  Check out the project’s page

This initiative is a product of the Oral History Program at the Special Collections and Archives Research CenterOregon State University Libraries.