UCAR Communications

staff notes monthly

The NCAR Library offers a potpourri of products

Established in 1960 with the creation of NCAR, the library is changing with the times, tailoring online databases and launching new products.

One day a scientist asked reference librarian Leslie Forehand to find a report written in the mid-1930s about the prevention of supercooling of water. All Leslie had to go on was the name of the German scientist who had written it—not much, when you’re trying to locate an aging academic report. “I looked and looked,” Leslie recalls.

Her persistence finally paid off when she came across a Web site that mentioned the name of the scientist. In an e-mail exchange with the owner of the site, Leslie learned that the original report had been lost during World War II. But her contact was able to provide Leslie with three preliminary papers containing much of the needed information.

“I was amazed that I found him,” Leslie says. “It’s rewarding when you finally find something that’s so challenging.”

Leslie is one of ten NCAR Library staffers who track down rare articles, purchase books and journals, and use the Web and other communications systems to provide increasingly sophisticated services. Scientists praise their work as critical to the institution’s research.p> In fact, CGD’s Caspar Amman, went so far as to get a photo of the library staff earlier this year to show in his science presentations. “Without their help our lives would be much harder and many things might not be possible at all,” he says. “There is no sheet of paper on this planet that the library staff won’t find, however obscure or incomplete my references are.”

Collections and community

The library, which is open to the public and has locations in both ML and FL, features a nationally recognized collection of materials about atmospheric science. Its unique atmospheric data collection contains both specific and averaged weather figures for geographic areas throughout the world.

But the library is not just for scientists. Its collection includes such items as books on career development and tapes and CDs for foreign language instruction. And it is beginning to provide more general services to the entire staff, which follows a trend among public libraries that are evolving into community centers.

The community-oriented initiatives include:

• A book exchange. The library is setting up an exchange of novels, biographies, and other popular books. Staff can bring in titles they no longer need and trade them for titles contributed by others.

• Community information. Information centers will be set up at both library locations to assist staff with questions on such general topics as recycling, obtaining tax forms, and renewing passports.

• Meetings and contemplation. With space at a premium on the mesa, the ML location may provide places for spontaneous or casual meetings, as well as for quiet contemplation.

“Libraries are needed more than ever as community congregational spaces,” explains Gayl Gray, who directs the library. “In the workplace, social interaction and communication are very valuable. One of our missions is to foster that social interaction at NCAR and UCAR.”

Going digital

In addition, the library is expanding its core services. Last year, it purchased the Web of Science, whichdescribes important papers published in scientific journals and supplies article citation counts. Scientists can access the data from their desktops whenever they wish. Another program, called Books 24x7, comprises full-text searchable books about computer hardware and software. Then there’s Essential Science Indicators, a database the library purchased at the request of NCAR director Tim Killeen. It displays the comparative publishing records of scientific institutions and the most highly cited scientific papers. (The database lists NCAR 4th out of 295 geoscience institutions in total number of citations.)

Later this year, the library, in a collaborative venture with UCAR Communications, will launch its first digital product: an online catalog of digital images. The Digital Image Library will feature atmospheric images in both thumbnail and snapshot size, and it will make available higher-quality larger versions as well. Next, the library plans to inaugurate a project that will make all NCAR technical notes, cooperative theses, and manuscripts available online.

On top of all this, the library is continuing to refine its most popular product, which makes 283 e-journals available from one Web page (www. ucar.edu/library/ejournals.html). In fact, the library is adding electronic products so quickly that it has to make announcements as often as twice a week in This Week.

“The evolution of the information industry has kept this work fresh and challenging,” says Gayl. “Obviously, these are exciting times for us, and we’re looking forward to providing more essential services to the institution than ever before.”

Subject specialists throughout the institution guide the library by making suggestions for adding books or journals, ensuring the most relevant possible collection for the staff. In addition, Gayl is conducting a user survey to learn more about the information needs at
the institution and how the library can continue to tailor its products to meet those needs. She is particularly interested in reaching out to staff who may not be using the library but who might be able to benefit from its services.

The librarians say they enjoy helping both the staff and the general public. “When I can acquire hard-to-find items for a scientist here, that’s exciting for me,” explains Judy Litsey, the document delivery librarian. Describing the challenges of finding academic papers, conference proceedings, and other sometimes obscure materials—often from overseas and cited in an unusual way—she adds: “It’s an investigative job. I often have to think outside the box.”

Some library work is less visible to the public, but it also has its rewards. Terry Murray, the technical services librarian, spends much of her time helping her colleagues with new types of software. “When you actually get a program to work and you fix somebody’s problem, and you can see the light of clarity on his or her face, that’s really satisfying,” she says. •David Hosansky

Also in this issue...

Our new buildings: UCAR purchases Center Green

One—no, two—new Delphi coordinators

Team UCAR/NCAR leads Boulder’s Bike-to-Work Day

Powerful new version of CCSM aids in climate analysis

Random Profile: Terri Cantrell

UCAR studies daycare options: Can the institution open its own center?

It’s a family tradition

Teaching educators

Short Takes

Crisis phone line available to staff

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