• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


RAMDEEN, Sarah, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, CB# 3360, 100 Manning Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360,

In 2002 the National Research Council (NRC) published Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril. In this report, the NRC identified several challenges to be addressed, in order to preserve geological materials. One such challenge was identifying collections and determining why they might be unavailable for use/reuse. This call has been echoed in the work by the USGS with the NGGDPP and other similar groups because access to collections is a major aspect of preservation. Often organizations see websites and online catalogs as a solution to most access problems. However, access is more than providing gateways to materials in a collection: it is also about understanding user needs and determining what tools will work best for these users. Hedstrom (1997) emphasizes that there are two perspectives of a preservation missions, that of the users and those of the custodians of these collections. When curators of geological collections create catalogs and inventories, they should consider the needs of the external user and future users of the collections as well as their organizational needs.

There is a need for further study of how users interact with geological collections. Information scientists utilize user studies to better understand the information seeking behavior, or the behavior associated with seeking information of a specific population related to a collection of material. Yakel (2002) found that archivists overestimate the expertise of their users and that a common ground needs to be developed in order to facilitate finding and retrieving archival materials and as a result she recommends user studies. Similarly, curators of geological collections could benefit from understanding the expertise and needs of their users. Conducting user studies of a geological collection could also engage the user community of geological collections in the preservation and access process and could improve use, as well as raise awareness of collections, meeting one of the necessary NRC challenges to provide geological information to future generations of researchers.

Hedstrom, M. (1997). Digital preservation: a time bomb for digital libraries. Computers and the Humanities, 31(3), 189–202.

Yakel, E. (2002). Listening to users. Archival Issues, 26(2), 111–127.

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