Paper No. 313-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM
THE ARCHIVAL PAPERS OF FIELD GEOLOGISTS: THE CHALLENGES OF DISCOVERY AND ACCESS TO THE BREADTH OF GEOLOGIC DATA FROM UNPUBLISHED FIELD RESEARCH
Library special collections, including those in the geosciences, are about telling the story, about creating compelling narratives around central themes and connecting them to context that enriches those narratives. The archival papers of a field geologist tell a story of that geologist’s professional life and contribution to science through his or her notes, maps, correspondence, reports, etc. Collection description, which makes it possible for users to discover archival papers, is often framed around the geologist’s “story.” If it’s the data within the geologist’s archival papers that the user wants, for example on field work done in a specific region, the path to that data is through the geologist, and requires the user to have some foreknowledge of the connection between geologist and field area(s). A lack of enhanced description of the field work associated with a collection that facilitates users seeking this data can be an active barrier to discovery. The broader the field geologist’s career as reflected in their papers, the more fragmented the “story” of the field work may become to the user seeking the geologic information across different collections. How do we tie together the data within these collections to form a different sort of story that benefits the user? Collections from the Russell L. & Lyn Wood Mining History Archive, Colorado School of Mines Library, will be used to illustrate the depth and breadth of early field geologists’ activities as preserved in their working papers, the potential barriers to users, and our evolving best practices for discovery and metadata. Local practices applied to archival papers can support discovery and access, open this content to a wider audience in our digital environment, and promote further serendipitous discoveries of geologic data.