Sunday, May 20, 2012

NOAA Western Regional Center Libraries

The Student Chapter of the Special Library Association at University of Washington (SLA-UW) hosts 'library crawls' each quarter for students of the Information School. The crawl takes students to two or three special libraries or collections in the Seattle area to introduce them to the variety of opportunities available. Students meet with librarians at the site, tour the collections and discover special libraries. The most recent library crawl hosted by SLA-UW visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Regional Center. Two SLA-UW officers submitted pictures and notes from the tour for this week's post. A special thank to Ann Pool for the text, and Violet Fox for the photos. You can access the Flickr stream for additional images from their crawl.

SLA-UW’s latest library crawl on May 9th took us to two of the three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) libraries in Seattle: the NOAA Seattle Regional Libraryand the National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) Library, both located in Sand Point.(The third is the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Centers Library in Montlake.) Sixteen students attended this tour led by Brian Voss, the NOAA library director and a UW MLIS graduate.

Brian’s undergraduate background is in zoology and conservation ecology. He then went into NOAA’s fisheries observer program for a couple of winters before ending up in library school. During that time he worked in the Natural Sciences Library and for the Gates Foundation. He did a directed field work (DFW) at the Marine Mammal library and then went right to NOAA after receiving his MLIS. Brian was most interested in the tech classes, and said that the best ones taught concepts that are used regardless of changes in technology.

The three libraries serve the Western region offices. The NOAA library focuses on physical oceanography and atmospheric science. The primary use of the NOAA library is journal subscriptions to support research. Some nautical charts have been digitized but there are usability issues with viewing them online. The library also supports some email reference with the public and non-NOAA-affiliated social scientists. NOAA is now partnering with the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) on a pilot program to create a digital repository; this was prompted by documents from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Sonja Kromann, another UW MLIS grad, directs the NMML library. Its walls are lined with file cabinets containing articles reprinted from print journals the library didn’t subscribe to. Articles are no longer added to the files as periodicals are now available online, but the existing articles are still only indexed in the card catalog. The library also contains a collection of theses and archives, including the Fur Seal Archive which was Brian’s DFW project.

If solo librarianship or scientific libraries sounds interesting, you might want to consider a DFW at NOAA. Brian has worked with many DFW students in the past and has a couple of project ideas, including cataloging and inventorying the regional libraries’ online subscriptions, depending on your interests. After the tour we walked down to the Sound Garden sculpture located on NOAA's grounds and then enjoyed happy hour at the Monkey Pub. NOAA library nautical charts
NOAA library nautical charts
NOAA library reading room
NMML library
Sound Garden

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