Natural Resources Information Council

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Hollydays!!

The days are getting brighter and not just because of the Winter Solstice. I just received word that the latest attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have been defeated. 2005 ends on a good note. Let's hope for a good 2006.

As an attempt to get discussion going, I'd like to offer the various Natural Resources librarians the opportunity to brag. Brag about your library, review a book, talk about how you got into being a Natural Resources Librarian.

I'd also like to start a discussion about why libraries are important in Natural Resources Management and how librarians can better sell these ideas to their managers. We've all forgotten about marketing to funders. Success stories?

May your winter holiday celebrations be merry and bright. May 2006 bring better atmospheres for the work that we do to collect and preserve literature on our collective resources.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Shifting Baselines

Lately there has been some talk that dams should be considered part of the natural environment. After all, they are permanent. I'd say our baseline has made a major shift if dams are to be considered natural.

Dams are manmade structures that interfere with natural streamflows and create major obstructions in the natural order. They are the ultimate imposition of human will on the environment. They should never be considered as natural or permanent. True, they are long-lasting, but they are still removable structures.

I hope that humanity and especially the American public will eventually lose their complacency in regards to energy policy and start making strides in the direction of sustainability.

What has this to do with librarianship in the natural resources? Well, a lot actually. We hold the historical documentation that shows what the natural environment could be if we all started living in harmony with nature rather than trying to impose human 'order' and structure. Sustainability is reflected in our collection development, especially if we are striving to have Zero-Growth Collections. We also need to provide materials to help planners, policy makers and scientists develop better alternatives to our current energy sources.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Keeping Up

Sitting and listening to a presenter from OCLC talk about all the new technologies to create community in our libraries.

Well, technology continues to evolve and it's terribly fast. I'm so far behind, I feel like a skeleton. I don't want to wait for technology to evolve. I want a direct link from my head to the computer. When will my USB port be installed in my head?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

No Respect

Well, as the third Wednesday of the month, I have a meeting with the Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership. They will be discussing the next steps in preserving this valuable natural resource.

I've worked hard for these folks, but it was mentioned that one of the first duties of the Project Manager they propose hiring would be to collect and review the literature on the lake. This is the exact topic of my capstone project for my Master's in Environmental Policy & Management. I collected documents all the way back to the mid-1940's and created an online bibliography and digital collection of materials. This work must mean nothing to these folks. Or is it simply because I am a librarian and not worthy of scientific notice? (Doing a Google search for Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership brings up my site first though!)

Yes, a bit of a rant, but I'm tired of not being respected. I have knowledge and research skills. I know how to read and investigate. It just torques me that these folk are so willing to ignore my work that I present to them every month.

Rant over, but still stinging.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back to Reality

In the face of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I haven't had much to say. What can be said? Thoughts of criticism of the government whirl through my head...why didn't they...?

Our natural resources have struck back at our depredations. Mother Nature vented her fury on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Where will she strike next?

Hopes and prayers for our colleagues in the South, for their safety, for their families, for their futures. When the time comes, those of us in relative safety will surely step forward to help you rebuild collections and save those that can be saved.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Natural Resources and balanced collections

I received a disturbing email with the subject of 'scary book'. The book in question was Help, Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed. Now as a living, breathing Socialist, I could be considered an extreme liberal, but I do have conservative tendencies. I was raised as a military brat, after all. One can't escape all the nurturing of one's parents.

Anyway, the missive ended with the idea that the recipients of the email would have to buy their own copies as the StreamNet Library would not soon have this title included in the collection. I replied that indeed it would be considered for inclusion in the collection based on topic and reviews. However, if no one checks out the book, is the title valuable for the collection? Most of my patrons/clients/users have liberal leanings. But would I attract more users if they felt their views on the environment were also represented?

I took exception to the statement that the StreamNet Library would not include materials of a conservative (v. conservation) nature in our collections. As a Professional Librarian, I do tend to try to follow the ALA (American Library Association) Code of Ethics. I try not to allow my personal philosophy and political leanings to determine the slant of the collection.

In the field of Natural Resources, however, this balancing act can be rather difficult. The publishing field is awash with books that definitely have what would be considered a liberal slant. Conservative conservation materials seem to be rather scarce, or is this only a perceived scarcity because I am not actively seeking these materials? Does this also relate to being located in the Pacific Northwest? As most know, Washington and Oregon should be considered as part of Canada after the last election.

Do others have this difficulty? I'd like to work on balancing the StreamNet collections. In the subject areas covered by this library, the task can be rather difficult. So balancing liberal environmentalism v. conservative environmentalism? Is it possible? Are there recommendations for materials?

Friday, August 12, 2005

In early August, the Idaho Statesman (story now only available with credit card) ran a story "Expert Changes His Mind: Dams Should Come Down" in which Don Chapman recants nearly his entire professional career as a fish biologist. Other newspapers picked up the story, so some have seen the startling news. This reversal is being hailed as a major turning point in salmon recovery efforts. The dark side has lost a major voice.

Other scientists, however are upset with the turn of events and are extremely unforgiving. Ed Chaney wrote a letter distributed via email in response that sums up with "I pledge to you personally, Don Chapman, that if the salmon killers who paid you for the past quarter century prevail, and wild salmon and steelhead of the Snake River Basin become functionally extinct, I will do everything in my limited power to ensure that future generations never forget your name."

So, while the Salmon Wars have a new voice to add to the mix to let our inestimable President know the truth of the fate of the salmon, how strong will it be against those who are still opposed to him coming back to the light? Should all be forgiven in the battle to save this icon of the Pacific Northwest, or do we turn away an ally because of previous political leanings?

Does this mean the Federal agencies and the President will finally listen to the scientific evidence, or will they continue to concoct evidence to back up their version of reality? Time will tell as Doomsday draws nearer.