Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Geology

Page Coordinator: Kathleen Weessies Last updated: 04-27-2007

Purpose or Scope of Collection

Curricular and Research Needs

Although the MSU Libraries geosciences collection primarily serves the research and instructional requirements of the Department of Geological Sciences, it also serves a broader range of university programs, including users from Agriculture, Botany, Chemistry, Engineering, Geography, Kellogg Biological Station, Natural Resources, Physics, Plant & Soil Sciences, and Zoology.

The MSU Department of Geological Sciences offers BS, BA, MAT, MS, and Ph.D degree programs in any of the geosciences. Although the primary degrees are usually general in nature, the secondary and tertiary degrees are often highly specialized. The geosciences are a multi-disciplinary groups of related sciences that include, but are not limited to, the following: economic geology (including mining, petroleum and natural gas), field geology and mapping, geochemistry (both high and low temperature), geomorphology, geophysics and tectonics, glaciology, historical geology, hydrology & hydrogeology, mineralogy, petrology, sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, structure, paleontology (both vertebrate and invertebrate), paleobotany and palynology, volcanology, and weathering. Other fields that have a geologic aspect include: Agriculture, astronomy, cartography, crystal chemistry, ecology, environmental hazards analysis, environmental studies, evolution, geochronology, geography, geostatistics, isotope geochemistry, mathematical modeling, mining and petroleum engineering, planetary geology, pollution, remote sensing, soil genesis, and zoology.

The majority of geoscience materials are classed in the QE class schedule, with soils and hydrology materials in GB. Significant related materials can also be found in the G, GC, HA, QA, QB, QC, QD, QH, QL, S, TA, TD and TN classes.

History of the Collection

Prior to the 1920’s the geoscience collection consisted of a small number of books and journals housed in the library of the college. A small number of hand-typed catalog cards indicate that textbooks by Sir Charles Lyell, biographies by Sir Archibald Geikie, a subscription to American Journal of Science, and early publications from the state and federal geological surveys.

Because of the nature of geology and its reliance on descriptive and historical research, geology professors have always tried to maintain a professional library or reading room. Alumni have indicated that Stannard Bergquist had some sort of reading room in Agriculture Hall when the department was housed in that building in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. There is evidence of several donations of publications to the department by Richard.A. Smith (State Geologist 1919-1946) and R. Sherrill during the 1930’s and 40’s. During the time when Geology and Geography were united in one department (1929-1955), the Edwin C. Prophet Library was established as a reading room for graduate students and faculty. A number of books still bear the stamp of this reading room to honor Prophet who taught geology from 1930/31 to 1955/56.

The geology reading room received "charged" items from the main library as early as 1962. Some time around 1970 the reading room was made a formal branch library of the MSU Library system. Shelf list records show the transfer of approximately 130 research journals and an unknown number of books from the Science Library to the Geology Library between 1962-1967. In the early 1970's it was moved from the second floor to room 105 on the first floor. In Spring Break of 1976, it moved again to room 5 in the basement of the building.

In 1974, with the arrival of the new Chairman, Dr. Cambray, the department made a commitment to staffing the library with a half-time clerk; Sue Jones was the first clerk to be hired. Prior to this, the library was staffed with graduate students. Sue Jones worked until June 1977, and was responsible for organizing the collection, conducting an inventory, and introducing basic record-keeping procedures for serials and circulation. The field trip guidebook collection was also established. Dr. Cambray and Sue Jones should be credited with transforming the Geology Library from a neglected reading room to a true branch library. Diane Baclawski succeeded Sue in 1977. This Geology Department-paid position was made full-time in 1978.

The Geology Library grew substantially in the subsequent twenty years, both in terms of space and collection. In 1983, the Geology Library acquired room 10 as the Geology Library Annex. In 1991, the Geology Department gave room 4 to the Geology Library as study space for students. In 1993 Geology became a line item on the Libraries’ collection budget for the first time. In 1999, compact shelving was installed in room 10 to increase shelving space.

At the time the Geology Library folded in 2006, it held in addition to cataloged books, numerous duplicate US Geological Survey (USGS) depository maps, Canadian depository maps, as well as the Department’s collection of geologic and topographic maps and thesis/dissertation collection.

In 2004 the Geology Department eliminated the position of Geology Librarian, effective July 1, 2006. All books, journals, and maps purchased and maintained by MSU Libraries returned to the main library over the summer 2006. The size of the collection at that time was about 30,000 volumes and 15,000 maps. The maps, folded and flat, went to the Map Library and the books and journals were incorporated into the regular main library collections. Most duplicate items were not retained. The Geology Department retained items owned by the department or its faculty.

Existing Strengths and Emphases

It has always been one of the Geology Library's functions to collect and maintain a geoscience collection related to the geological structure and evolution of the Michigan Basin and the Great Lakes. The Michigan Basin is a geologically-significant, archetypal structural entity formed primarily during Paleozoic time. It is recognized internationally as a classic basin structure that includes Michigan, the upper Great Lakes, parts of Ontario, and the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania. Geologic structures within the Basin include the Mid-Continent Rift and the Marquette Trough (dated in excess of 1 billion years), Paleozoic inland sea beds, and the Pleistocene (Ice Age) surface features.

For these reasons, the Michigan Basin Research Collection has been given a special priority in collection development in the Geology Library. Duplicate copies are retained for future use. Much of the materials are out-of-print and extremely difficult to replace. The acquisition of the materials from the Seattle Public Library allowed the Geology Library to obtain almost pristine copies of old reports and atlases that would be impossible to acquire on the open market.


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