Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
I – LIBRARIES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
THE PARK LIBRARY
By C. A. Harwell and G. C. Ruhle
The purpose of the park library should be that of furnishing readily available information to the park naturalist and his staff, as well as for members of the other departments of the park administrative staff. It should serve also for general and recreative use not only to these but to park visitors as well. It should aim to be an asset for visiting scientists engaged in research.
The park library ought to be limited in its general scope. The library should take special pains to collect all works pertaining to the park and immediate regions, especially those of historical value. It should endeavor to build up as complete sections as possible of literature on the sciences of special interest to the park (example; Mesa Verde, Archeology; Canyon, Geology; Hawaiian, Volcanology), as well as all National Park Service literature. It is advisable to include as far as available such periodicals as Nature Magazine, Forests and Forest Life, American Museums, etc. It is well to choose fiction with great care, using only the highest typo of literature. It is well to associate the library with the museum, if possible, since it essentially is a portion of the Educational Division of the park and augments information imparted to the tourist by the division through the staff members or the museum.
Staff: The park naturalist should serve as chief librarian, making such appointments for library service as he sees fit. In larger libraries, it may be possible to have a permanent librarian during the park season.
Most of the park naturalists were of the opinion that park libraries were chiefly for the use of the educational staff. Mrs. Taylor said that in her experience in Yosemite the greatest value seemed to be to persons outside the Service who were carrying out research work or looking up matters of special interest. She stated that the ranger naturalists used the library occasionally, but only seemed to do so to become familiar with the park.
Probably the use of the Yosemite library by ranger naturalists was not apparent because of the fact that certain of the books were removed to the upper offices for their work. Also, it was noted that a number of ranger naturalists had their own reference books.
After a discussion of the purposes of the park library, these were set down as follows:
(1) Basic reference material for use of staff
(2) Material for use of public
Mrs. Taylor said that her experience in Yosemite indicated that the most frequent demands by the public were for (1) Indian legends; (2) Handbooks.
She stated that visitors seemed to want short articles on history, Indians and geology, and that there is very little demand for “popular” literature.
It was agreed that all books in the park library should be directly or indirectly related to the park. This includes not only the field of science, but also fiction and poetry. It has been found by experience that the books most needed are first general informatory works on history, ethnological, and scientific studies directly related to the park; secondly, technical books; and thirdly, books on subjects more distantly related to the parks.
It was agreed that it was most advantageous to house the library within the museum building.