Head of Library Remembered
January 25, 2011
James Kopp, director of Aubrey R. Watzek Library, died August 5, at age 58, of cancer.
Born and raised in Pendleton, Kopp was a graduate of the University of Oregon and went on to earn a master’s degree in history from the University of Portland, a master’s degree in library science from the Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in American studies from George Washington University. Before joining Lewis & Clark, he was director of the PORTALS library consortium and the University of Portland library. He held additional leadership positions in academic and special libraries during his career.
As director of the Watzek Library from 1999 to 2010, Kopp was a mentor and friend to library staff. During his tenure, he reoriented the library to address Lewis & Clark’s 21st-century information needs and developed the library’s capacities in collection management, reference and instruction, access services, digital services, visual resources, and special collections. Notably, Kopp oversaw the expansion of Special Collections through the acquisition of several important literary and historical collections; the construction of a state-of-the-art facility; and the development of partnerships with scholars, curators, and cultural organizations in a wide range of areas. The library was commended in the college’s 2008 accreditation review for its work in visual resources and digital services and its unique online collections.
Kopp’s generosity to Lewis & Clark led to the establishment of the Johannah Sherrer Memorial Lecture in Library Service, the Jean Ward Gender Studies Collection, and many other donations to the library’s general and special collections. A scholar of utopian and communal studies, Kopp published a book on Oregon’s utopian heritage, Eden Within Eden (Oregon State University Press, 2009). His other publications include Catalogue of the James J. Kopp Collection of works by and about Edward Bellamy & American Utopian Literature (Berberis Press, 2009) and numerous scholarly articles. Kopp served on the board of directors of the Aurora Colony Historical Society and on the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. He was active in the Oregon Council for the Humanities’ Chautauqua program and lectured at libraries and organizations throughout the state.
Kopp is survived by wife Sue; daughter Lucy and her husband, Ryan; son Peter and his wife, Sarah; and son Joe B.A. ’04.