Oral History Gets A Modern Makeover And Top-Shelf Billing At The Mesa County Library

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Noel Kalenian
Librarian Noel Kalenian is saving oral histories about the Western Slope.

Just what did Colorado National Monument founder John Otto have in that box with a lighted fuse sticking out? Why did Grand Valley residents remove their radio antennas in summer? And how did an early Grand Junction madam make use of her undergarments in an attempt to spring her jailed customers?

Answers to those questions, and many more historical tidbits, can be found in the new Mesa County Oral History Project, a collaboration of the Museum of Western Colorado and the Mesa County Library.

Mesa County librarian Noel Kalenian has taken more than 2,000 deteriorating cassette tapes, recorded mainly in the 1970s, and given more than 60 of them new life. He digitized them and placed them in a unique online library access system so they are as easily browsed as books on a shelf. He tells Colorado Matters he plans to continue adding to the collection of long-ago voices that includes pioneers and the generation that followed them recalling early days on the Western Slope.