About this Collection

The Booknotes Oral History Project was conceived in late 2013 by members of University Libraries' Administration and the Special Collections Research Center.  The main objective of the project was to speak to the individuals interviewed by Brian Lamb for the Booknotes television program, which aired between 1989-2004.  In March 2014, a list of eighty-one possible interviewees (authors, publishers, and present and former C-SPAN executives and staff) out of the original 801 had been compiled.  Each of the potential interview candidates was sent a letter from then-University Libraries Dean John Zenelis asking if they would like to participate in the program.

After responses came in, SCRC Digital Collections and Exhibition Archivist Robert Vay, along with project oral historians Misha Griffith and Lindsey Bestebreurtje, spent eleven months conducting thirty-nine interviews of persons related to C-SPAN and Booknotes.  The interviews were conducted either in person (for local subjects) or via phone.  In-person interviews took place either in a location in the Fenwick Library, the subject's residence or place of work, or, in the case of one interview, a Starbucks booth in a noisy Washington, D.C. hotel lobby.  In-person interviews were recorded on a Sony camcorder and/or Marantz digital voice recorder.  Telephone interviews were recorded in a quiet room in the Fenwick Library using a speaker phone and the Marantz voice recorder.  Interviews were conducted from 2014 to 2015. 

Transcripts were added for the interviews in 2023.

Each interview was archived according to professional best practices.  A user copy was created for each interview (CD audio for audio interviews and DVD for video interviews).  A copy of each interview is also available on the Libraries' Special Collections Research Center YouTube channel for streaming access.  

A letter of thanks was mailed to each interviewee, along with a copy of their interview, and a copy of the subject's signed Deed of Gift (i.e. release) form. 

Among the more notable interview subjects included in this project are historian Douglas Brinkley, columnist for the Village Voice and Wall Street Journal Nat Hentoff, journalist and author Nathan McCall, journalist Ken Auletta, author Louis Lapham, and journalist and activist Coleman McCarthy.