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At the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Special Libraries Association, seven attendees at the business meeting of the Biological Sciences Division first discussed forming a group of interested members to share concerns common to natural history libraries and their collections. At the following Annual Meeting in 1991, a group of 18 potential members decided to petition to become a caucus within SLA. The Association approved this request in November 1991, and by 1992 the membership of the newly created Natural History Caucus had more than doubled.
The Natural History Caucus schedules its own meetings at SLA's Annual Conferences. The Caucus works closely with several divisions of SLA that have similar or overlapping interests, particularly the Museums, Arts & Humanities Division, the Environment and Resource Management Division, and the Biological Sciences Division, which donates space in its newsletter, Biofeedback, for Natural History Caucus news.
Natural history broadly defined is the scientific study of the natural world on a macro level. It includes the specific disciplines of anthropology and archaeology, botany, zoology, paleontology, geology, meteorology, and astronomy. It is the mission of the Natural History Caucus to serve as a forum for the cooperative development of library collections, the delivery of information services, and the interpretation of natural science information resources. Current goals of the Caucus include:
The Natural History Caucus sponsors or co-sponsors programs at SLA Annual Conferences. Programs have included lectures, panel presentations, field trips, and tours of natural history institutions. The annual Caucus business meeting allows natural history librarians the opportunity to network, discuss issues affecting natural history libraries, and plan Caucus programs. Past programs have included:
In addition to continuing programs at the SLA Annual Conferences, future projects undertaken by the Natural History Caucus may include union lists of library collections, cooperative collection development ventures, a newsletter, and directories of natural history libraries and institutions.
The Natural History Caucus has an electronic discussion list, NHC, which provides members and other interested parties a forum for ongoing discussion of Caucus activities and issues related to natural history librarianship. NHC is an unmoderated list open to all. To subscribe, go to the list information page and follow the instructions there.
Membership is non-restrictive and is open to all SLA members who are interested in any aspect of natural history librarianship. Present members work in museums, conservation and research organizations, botanical parks and arboreta, government agencies, academic institutions, and biological research stations. Caucus members are assessed a small fee additional to the basic SLA membership dues.
1700 Eighteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009 USA
Dean Walton, Natural History Caucus Convener
University of Oregon Libraries
20 Cascade Hall
5201 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5201
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