Supporting research in the field: Making a hidden collection discoverable

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


A collection supporting the natural sciences research of the North American Great Lakes lies hidden in the middle of one of them. Accessible only by plane or an hours-long ferry ride across northern Lake Michigan, the Central Michigan University Biological Station (CMUBS) on Beaver Island contains an on-site library comprised solely of donations and gifts. This collection is the focus of an ongoing project between CMU's biology librarian and station manager. Together they have worked to organize and fully describe the library’s materials with a future goal of reducing the size down to a streamlined and efficient collection supporting both teaching and research, focused on the specific region which has been home to decades of student and faculty field work. The collection includes thousands of books (made up in part of several large and generous gifts from faculty and emeriti) as well as print journals, master’s theses, reference materials, government documents, a small but significant foreign language collection, maps, and unpublished student work. Materials date back in some cases to the mid-1800s, and contain unique information about the life and history of Beaver Island, Michigan, and the wider Great Lakes region. While somewhat described in Excel files, much of the collection is unrecorded, many items are missing Library of Congress call numbers, and none of it is currently searchable online. The biology librarian visited the station over several days during the summers of 2017 and 2018 to organize the items, describe some of the unlabeled materials, and deselect some print journals; in 2018, this work included a complete shelf read of the main book collection. Near future plans for the project include an online searchable catalog that includes descriptions of unique collection content such as hand-drawn maps and other data from on-site research. Learn more about how a biology librarian has plumbed the depths of this hidden collection and continues to bring its resources to light.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Apr 2019
EventACRL 2019 Conference - Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Duration: Apr 1 2019Apr 30 2019


ConferenceACRL 2019 Conference


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