Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
I – LIBRARIES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
ESTABLISHING PARK LIBRARIES
By Dorr G. Yeager
In establishing a park library several things should be considered. What scope shall it include? Where shall it be housed? How should it be administered? How shall the books be obtained? All but the last subject are being treated in other papers. I shall, therefore, confine myself to the matter of obtaining the books.
The books naturally fall into two classes — second-hand books and new ones. The first step in building up a library is to make a list of the subjects covered. These will, for example, fall into botany, zoology, history, etc. Bibliographies are always available and a list of representative books should be made up from these. If there is sufficient money it is a simple matter to procure the desired books from a book store or from the publishers. If, on the other hand, the funds are limited, as they usually are, second hand books must be relied upon to a great extent. Bookstores and dealers are always glad to send catalogues of second hand books and many can be obtained by a careful study of these catalogues.
One thing should be kept in mind. A library, like a museum, is never completed. It should be added to constantly. All book sources should be scanned for new and applicable books on the park or on the different phases of science. As new books come out they should be purchased. In many cases, let us say, there are gaps to be filled in the books on a subject. Careful attention should be paid to the catalogues in order to procure the book at once when it comes to light. If you are near a city, by all means spend considerable time in the bookstores on each visit. A mass of material relative to your region which you do not dream exists, will be found and brought to light by such visits.
In summation, therefore, let us say that the library is composed of old books and new and that bookstores, catalogues and lists should be studied often in order to round out your park library.
Care must be exercised in accepting books which come to the park through contributions. Donated books are of three classes:
(1) Applicable to park and desirable for library,
(2) Not applicable to park but possessing a trade value, and
(3) No value.
Needless to say, those volumes which fall in the latter class should not be accepted, as they have no use and simply take up valuable space.
Current literature as applicable to the park should be made a part of the library. There followed a discussion relative to the purchase of books, and the statutory limitation of $200 on the annual purchase of books in all parks. It was agreed that the present $200 limitation should be eliminated entirely so that books may be purchased from the park budget as are any other supplies. If this is not possible, then the limitation should be raised so that an adequate supply of the most important reference books can be obtained through purchase.
It was brought out that periodicals can often be obtained through exchange for Nature Notes.
It was recognized as advantageous that the Park Service maintain a library at Educational Headquarters at Berkeley, California, to collect books for all the parks. Records should be available at these Headquarters showing what books are on hand in the individual parks and what titles are lacking.
Government publications can be obtained free by writing to the heads of the various Bureaus under which the material is published. Lists can be obtained from these Bureaus indicating the literature available.
Authors are frequently willing to contribute their works and occasionally after their death relatives of the author may arrange for such contributions.