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BPA Library: a collection worth millions
7/11/2013 12:00 AM
BPA Library researcher Libby Burke displays a 50-year-old document from the Sam Moment Aluminum Library and Files. Professional appraisers recently calculated the library’s total worth to be about $18.5 million.
Inside BPA’s headquarters library you can find almost anything, from the journals of Lewis and Clark to history on Pacific Northwest native peoples and their cultures. The library is also home to loads of information on the utility industry dating back to BPA’s beginnings.
“We’ve kept everything BPA has published or commissioned since 1937, and I mean nearly everything,” says Kaye Silver, BPA Library supervisor.
Some of the library’s collections are rare and consequently extremely valuable. Professional appraisers recently calculated the library’s total worth to be about 18.5 million dollars.
“We knew sections of the library were likely worth several million. But we were surprised at how high some parts of the collection were valued,” says Silver.
Appraisers began evaluating the library last fall and completed their work in April. Perhaps the most interesting highlights from the appraisal are the photo and video archives valued at a whopping 7 million dollars and the collection from a former BPA employee called the Sam Moment Aluminum Library and Files. Appraisers calculated the Sam Moment collection to be worth about 1 million bucks.
One of BPA’s first economists, Sam Moment worked at the agency from 1940 to 1954. He specialized in industrial development and focused particularly on the aluminum industry. Librarians say Moment saved everything from interoffice memos to articles and speeches from mid-level BPA managers, documents that would’ve likely been lost if Moment had not saved them away for the future.
More than 450 boxes house BPA’s Sam Moment Aluminum Library and Files. Moment worked as one of BPA’s first economists during the early 1940s and saved nearly everything he and his co-workers wrote.
“I believe appraisers valued Sam Moment so highly because of how comprehensive it is. He wrote everything down. He kept diaries that offer valuable insight into what it was like to work at BPA during its infancy. He even kept meeting minutes and that’s why the collection is so much fun,” says Tina Kay, library archivist.
After leaving BPA in the mid-1950’s, Moment worked as a corporate consultant and travelled the world advising aluminum developers. In 1995, he donated his huge collection to BPA. The collection is housed in 450 boxes stacked in a large concrete store room beneath the GSA building near BPA headquarters.
“For anyone interested in how BPA helped develop the Pacific Northwest, the aluminum industry and its relationship to World War II, nothing else compares,” says Kay.
Sam Moment collection
is so big that library employees have yet to document and record all of its rare content. The collection is available to employees as well as the general public for research. Anyone who wants to review any of the material should first make an appointment with library staff. Also, because few of the documents have been digitally scanned, when the originals are used for research they need to be handled with extreme care.
“These are one-of-a-kind items that are very delicate and we’re trying to preserve them for our children's children,” says Kay.
The BPA Library, located at our headquarters in Portland, Ore., is open to the general public. For more about visiting the library or checking out materials, visit our
library's Web page
or call 503-230-READ (7323).
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