2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


ROBERTSON, James M., Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Univ of Wisconsin - Extension, 3817 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, jmrober1@wisc.edu

As an integral part of its statutory responsibilities over the past 100+ years, the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) has regularly gathered, organized, studied, and maintained collections of representative geologic samples from throughout Wisconsin. Currently, the collections comprise more than 500,000 feet of drill core, more than 550,000 cuttings samples, and approximately 51,000 hand specimens. These samples and related paper and digital records are fundamental data sets that directly support basic and applied research along with the preparation of journal articles, geologic maps and reports, environmental assessments, groundwater-protection plans, informed responses to service requests, etc.

For the past 30 years, the WGNHS geologic collections were housed about 85 miles east of the Survey's Madison office in a former Model T factory in downtown Milwaukee. In 1999 the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee began working on plans to redevelop the property. In mid-2003, the University abruptly notified the WGNHS that it would have to move out and/or dispose of its “old rock collection” currently occupying “dead storage space” in the former factory – by December 2004!

Facing this ultimatum, the WGNHS formulated and conducted a vigorous educational campaign aimed primarily at University of Wisconsin administrators and designed to re-define our “old rock collection” as a research library. Much of this effort was directed toward creating an informational DVD about the Survey and its geologic collections. The planning and production of the video played essential roles in developing our strategy and shaping our message. The DVD will be shown at this meeting.

I believe our educational efforts were, in large part, successful, and that the University came to appreciate the present and future scientific and societal (not to mention replacement) value of the WGNHS geologic collections. Our story has a happy ending: In December 2004 the University purchased a relatively new warehouse in a small town just 15 miles west of Madison. This facility is not only a much more accessible home for the WGNHS geologic research collections, but it also has room for on-site sample study and educational outreach activities.