UCSC Regional History Project announces publication of 'behind-the scenes' look at library's Special Collections

The Regional History Project at the University Library announces the publication of Rita Bottoms, Polyartist Librarian, UC Santa Cruz: 1965-2003. Project director Irene Reti conducted 14 hours of interviews with Rita Bottoms, former head of Special Collections at UCSC, shortly before Bottoms' retirement in March 2003. This oral history provides a vivid and intimate look at 37 years "behind the scenes" in the library's Special Collections.

For nearly four decades, Bottoms immersed herself in collecting work by some of the most eminent writers and photographers of the 20th century, including the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, photographer Edward Weston, composer John Cage, visual poet Kenneth Patchen, poet and letterpress book printer William Everson, poet and visual artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, composer and poet Lou Harrison, singer and photographer Graham Nash, and philosopher Norman O. Brown.

But Bottoms' role as a curator and librarian extended far beyond acquiring collections; she developed intense and profound intellectual and emotional relationships with each of these individuals. It is her detailed and deeply personal stories of these relationships that form the heart of this volume and provide the kind of human amplification of the library's collections that can only be captured through oral history. Bottoms' recollections of these individuals are an important contribution to the history of 20th-century art and literature in the United States.

Photocopies of the volume can be ordered from the Regional History Project at (831) 459-2847 or via e-mail to ihreti@ucsc.edu. The volume is also available for viewing at Special Collections, McHenry Library, and at Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, or can be checked out from the McHenry Library. In addition, the complete text of the oral history can be viewed at the Regional History web site: http://library/reg-hist/.