Lois Capps, former congresswoman for the United States who retired in November, has donated 20 years’ worth of documents to the UC Santa Barbara Library’s Special Research Collections.

Curated from Capps’ long history in Santa Barbara, the documents will be located on the third floor of the UCSB Library’s Mountain Side.

“I never entertained any other library as a possibility,” Capps said in an interview with the Nexus on Wednesday.

The collection includes letters from Capps’ constituents and several awards selected by Danelle Moon, the head of the Special Research Collections. Moon reached out to Capps and began collaborating on the records transfer last fall. The remaining awards will be digitally represented within the collection.

In a statement released Tuesday, Capps said one of her easier decisions was to donate her official papers to UCSB, while her decision to retire was “a hard one.” “This fantastic school has played such an important part in my family’s life,” she stated.

“The UCSB Library is honored to preserve and manage former Congresswoman Lois Capps’ papers, which will support generations of students and scholars interested in her 20 years of leadership and service,” UCSB Librarian Denise Stephens said in a press release.
“We are deeply grateful to Lois Capps for this gift, which will help advance UCSB Library as a destination for research on California history and politics,” the release read.

Capps, who said she believes “pretty strongly that we have an open and transparent government,” is glad that the collection can be used and “not just stored away in musty boxes somewhere.” Capps redacted personal information to ensure that individuals’ privacy would not be violated.

“A lot of the material is really very paper oriented, before 2002, before everything went totally digital, so there’s a lot of interesting scrapbooks about her time in office, you know, her calendars, all of the legislation she was involved with,” Moon said on Wednesday “This is kind of an eclectic representation.”

Capps donated around 130 boxes worth of material, which Moon estimates will take about six months to categorize.

UCSB librarians will survey the collection to determine its contents, formats and special preservation requirements. They will then arrange and describe the collection for public access.

“Some things will need special preservation depending how old it is,” Beaudry Allen, who will be processing the collection, said.

Once librarians process the collection, students will be allowed to use the documents for research. They must request the documents in advance from the Department of Special Research Collections and view them in a specific room where no food, drinks or backpacks are allowed. Students also are not allowed to use pen or take any flash photography because of the nature of the documents, some of which are irreplaceable.

Moon also hopes to raise funds to offset processing costs. The department receives around $100,000 per year just for the materials needed to preserve collections. This doesn’t include wages or other costs.

The collection will become part of the growing number of political papers at UCSB, which also include records from former assemblymember Das Williams, former California legislator John Vasconcellos and Ronald Reagan’s biographer Lou Cannon.

A version of this story appeared on p. 4 of the Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 edition of the Daily Nexus.

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