Report on the Geological Survey Library: its history, technical work, resources, management

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Abstract

One of the limitations under which any library operates is the image it creates as a storehouse, This aspect can obscure the purposes and activities which make one library differ from another. In an institutional library, like the Survey's, the library purposes are related to the changing life of the organization, and to the world of ideas and facts it mirrors.

What goes on inside the Survey Library is understandable only in part from the standard practices it shares with other libraries as we view them today. For the other part, deeply rooted in the history and traditions of the organization, the understanding arises from the history that has made it what it is. This report will first provide, therefore, an historical sketch of the Survey Library with particular reference to its development over three quarters of a century, to the philosophy of librarianship that has animated it, and to the future growth to which it is committed.

By design and history, the Survey Library is a special library, maintained primarily for the benefit of Survey workers. This report will review the main routines and characteristics of the "special" aspects of the library operations.

Personnel and funds of the library have increased many..fold during the past decade, roughly parallel to the growth of the Geological Survey. This expansion is in sharp contrast to a long span of lean years when the library piled up a backlog of tasks partly finished or not done at all because of limited funds and staff. This report will describe the resources in personnel, funds, equipment and space available in the past and now to the library, their sufficiency, and the outlook for future growth. It will be demonstrated that the library's need for resources will continue to expand for reasons that are partly independent of any future growth of Survey employment.

Finally, against the background of history, functions, resources and problems described the report will attempt to express some measure of effectiveness for the management of the library. A measure of effectiveness is simply an expression of the degree to which a system fulfills its objectives.

Throughout this study, the aim has been to develop a body of systematic information about the various activities of the library for uses and judgements that go beyond immediate concerns. No such examination of this important area of the Survey's activities has been undertaken in recent decades, and none whatever in a context of changes such as those of the past decade. Yet the period of most profound change seems to lie ahead, seeded by explorations in the field of information storage and retrieval and forced by the volume of information in the various branches of science.

Acknowledgment of the cooperation given by the Chief Librarian and members of the library staff during the preparation of this report is gratefully made. It is not an easy task for members of an organization to open up their operating field to the questions and judgments of a staff member outside that organization. The willingness to do so, in the face of queries which have often suggested the need of change, is itself favorable to change when it becomes due and when it is sought by management.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Unnumbered Series
Title Report on the Geological Survey Library: its history, technical work, resources, management
DOI 10.3133/70202536
Year Published 1962
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description iv, 140 p.