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Stopped at 5:04 p.m., the exact time of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the town clock in downtown Santa Cruz became a symbol of that moment in local history.
Photo: Vester Dick.

August 28, 2006

Regional History Project publishes oral histories of Loma Prieta earthquake and University Library

By Scott Rappaport

The UCSC Library's Regional History Project has just announced the publication of two new oral histories

Photo: Allan Dyson

Former University Librarian Allan Dyson

Photo: Don Harris

The first volume is The Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, 1989: A UCSC Student Oral History Project. It consists of 11 interviews with Santa Cruz community residents, local schoolchildren in Aptos, UCSC students, plus the director of Watsonville’s Salud Para la Gente, the nonprofit health care provider that served as one of the first-response emergency treatment centers after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

The series of interviews was conducted as part of a student internship class held at UCSC in 1990, "An Interdisciplinary Oral History of the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake,” taught by former Regional History Project director Randall Jarrell and cosponsored by UCSC’s emeritus history professor John Dizikes and journalism lecturer Conn Hallinan. The volume is edited by Irene Reti, current director of the Regional History Project.

“These oral histories illuminate the diverse and subjective experiences of this natural disaster in ways that are not captured in news photos and articles, or geological and engineering reports,” Reti noted.

Reti herself conducted 10 hours of interviews with former UCSC library head Allan Dyson, shortly before his retirement, for the second oral history volume: Allan J. Dyson: Managing the UCSC Library, 1979-2003. In this lively and detailed narrative, Dyson discusses the design and construction of the award-winning UCSC Science & Engineering Library, the implementation of automated catalog systems, library fundraising, the impact of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, planning for the McHenry Library Addition, and many other key developments in the history of the University Library. The volume also provides a window into the general history of UCSC during that period.

“This oral history, conducted as part of the Regional History Project's University History Series, is a singular contribution to the documentation of 24 years of history--not only of UCSC's University Library, but also of a period of extensive technological and cultural transformations in academic librarianship in the United States,” said Reti.

Photocopies of these publications can be ordered from the Regional History Project at (831) 459-2847 or via e-mail to ihreti@ucsc.edu. The volumes are also available for viewing at McHenry Library’s Special Collections, the Santa Cruz Public Library, and UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. They can also be checked out from McHenry Library. In addition, the complete text of the oral history can be viewed in PDF format at the Regional History web site.

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