Home News Local News PASSION FOR LIBRARIES
PASSION FOR LIBRARIES
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
Finding an open day on Patricia Cutright's calendar is as difficult as finding university libraries that still use card catalogs.
Cutright, the director of Eastern Oregon University's library, rarely has free time as she directs an array of local and statewide library projects.
Still, Cutright has such energy and balances her responsibilities so well, she never seems overburdened.
For all her efforts, she recently was named Oregon Librarian of the Year by the Oregon Library Association.
The presentation was made at the Oregon Library Association/ Washington Library Association 2002 Joint Conference in Portland.
"It was such a humbling experience,'' Cutright said. "Every one of the 500 (Oregon) librarians there was deserving of the award. Oregon's librarians are an amazing group of people.''
Cutright has worked at Eastern's Pierce Library since 1986. She has been the library's director for the past nine years.
"She is totally committed to this library and all the libraries in Oregon. She is very passionate about her work,'' said Connie Johnson, coordinator of the Eastern Oregon Reference LINK program.
Johnson is based at Pierce Library while working for Eastern Oregon Reference LINK, a free reference referral service for all Oregon libraries.
Johnson nominated Cutright for the library association honor.
"She is a very kind and compassionate person," Johnson said. "She always has time for her staff.''
Johnson added that Cutright's ability to effectively balance many projects is remarkable.
"She can do so many things at once,'' Johnson said.
The many projects Cutright has helped direct include the expansion of the Pioneer Library System.
The online network, based at Pierce Library, allows people to see, via computer, what titles are available at 70 member libraries in Eastern Oregon. Patrons can borrow from member libraries at no charge.
The system consists of libraries in Union, Wallowa, Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler counties.
Established in September 1993 with funds from the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Construction Act, the system had 20 libraries until the most recent expansion, which added 50 more. The expansion cost $1.1 million.
Major funding for the expansion was provided by the Meyer Memorial Trust, which contributed $750,000; the Ford Family Foundation, which donated $227,953; and the Collins Foundation, which gave $50,000. Cutright played a major role in landing grants from the foundations.
Cutright also was a major player in the Connect Oregon (CORE) program, heading the CORE committee. Her efforts helped convince the Oregon Legislature to form a task force that will address the needs of a consortium of 500 libraries in Oregon. State Sen. Cliff Trow, D-Corvallis, is the chairman.
Cutright also has helped Pierce Library incorporate some of the most advanced technology available. The library director gives credit for these and other accomplishments to her staff.
"We have a phenomenal staff,'' Cutright said.
She said that the creative thinking and problem-solving skills of her staff allows the library to accomplish much in spite of tight budgets.
Cutright's staff includes Shirley Roberts, the library's assistant director. Roberts credits Cutright with helping her take major steps in her career.
"She has been a tremendous mentor. ... She went way beyond the requirements of her job to help me,'' Roberts said.
Roberts also credits Cutright with keeping Eastern on the cutting edge.
"She is very innovative and creative. She keeps us moving forward as a library,'' Roberts said.
A reception honoring Cutright will take place today from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Ackerman Hall Alumni Room (208).