WHAT IS A NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM LIBRARY? • Museum based on science (not art) • Multidisciplinary
PURPOSES • Scientific & scholarly research • Specimen collections • “Edutainment” -Steven Asma
HISTORY • First appeared about 300 years ago • Precursor: Cabinet of Curiosities • Royal Society (London) – collects Cabinets of Curiosities for scientific study (late 1600s) • VIP: Linnaeus – published “Systema naturae” in mid 1700s – taxonomic classification system
HISTORY • VIP – Charles Darwin – published “Origin of species” in 1859 – focus of natural history museums changes inventory of nature to proponents of Darwin’s theory of evolution • After Darwin’s theory accepted – focus turns to exotica (i.e. dinosaurs) • Today – focus shifting again, from exotica to biodiversity & conservation
Anatomy Astronomy Anthropology Archaeology Botany Entomology Geology Oceanography Paleontology Zoology DISCIPLINES REPRESENTED
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION • Widely distributed across the country • Larger museum primarily in large cities • Smaller museums may be found almost everywhere
DIVERSITY • Great variety • Arboretums, planetariums, and zoos can be classified as natural history museums • Many small, specialized collections
SPECIALIZED COLLECTIONS • American International Rattlesnake Museum (Albuquerque, NM) • Citrus Variety Collection (University of California) • Culture Collection of Microorganisms from Extreme Environments (University of Oregon) • Mycological Herbarium (Washington State University
MAJOR CATEGORIES • Public Museums of Natural History • University Museums of Natural History
PUBLIC NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM LIBRARIES • 100 – 500 thousand volumes, 5 – 15 staff • up to 500 journal subscriptions • Reference, circulation, ILL (usually limited to museum curators) • Users: curators, researchers, the general public (with limitations)
PROMINENT PUBLIC NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMS • American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY) – largest in US • Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL) • National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian (Washington, DC) • Museum of Natural History (London) – huge - one million volumes!
PROMINENT UNIVERSITY NATURAL HISTORY LIBRARIES • Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge, MA) – Ernst Mayr Library • Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University (New Haven, CT) – many small specialty libraries within Kline Science Library • State Universities – many have natural history museum libraries – but not URI
RHODE ISLAND NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMS • Museum of Natural History and Planetarium (Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI) – no professional librarian – small collection cared for by curator
LIBRARIES • 130 natural history museum libraries in the US • Primary users: curators & outside researchers • Usually open to public with limitations
COLLECTIONS • Works on various disciplines, history of science, and museology • Online journals (hundreds!) • Archives on museum history (expeditions, museum research) • Specimen collection databases [Field Museum] • Maps, taxonomic drawings [London Natural History Museum]
SLA AFFILIATIONS • Natural History Caucus • Multiple divisions: Museum, Arts & Humanities; Environment & Resource Management; Biological Sciences • Promotes professional development, cooperation, and resource sharing among it members.