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 itnot much, when
youre 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. Its rewarding when you finally find something
thats 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 institutions research.p> In fact, CGDs 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 wont 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
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:
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.
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 theres 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
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 were looking forward
to providing more essential services to the institution than ever
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, thats exciting for me,
explains Judy Litsey, the document delivery librarian. Describing
the challenges of finding academic papers, conference proceedings,
and other sometimes obscure materialsoften from overseas
and cited in an unusual wayshe adds: Its 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 somebodys problem, and you can see the
light of clarity on his or her face, thats really satisfying,
she says. David Hosansky
Also in this issue...
new buildings: UCAR purchases Center Green
twonew Delphi coordinators
UCAR/NCAR leads Boulders Bike-to-Work Day
new version of CCSM aids in climate analysis
Profile: Terri Cantrell
studies daycare options: Can the institution open its own center?
a family tradition
phone line available to staff