Rita Bottoms, Polyartist Librarian: 1965-2003

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2005, 265 pp.

Project Director Irene Reti conducted fourteen hours of interviews with Rita Bottoms, Head of Special Collections at the University Library, UC Santa Cruz, shortly before her retirement in March 2003. This oral history provides a vivid and intimate look at thirty-seven years behind the scenes in the library's Special Collections.

For thirty-seven years Bottoms dedicated herself to collecting work by some of the most eminent writers and photographers of the twentieth 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 her 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 which form the heart of this volume, and provide the kind of human amplification of the library's collections which can only be captured through oral history. Bottoms' recollections of these individuals are an important contribution to the history of twentieth century art and literature in the United States.