By: Joe Gentili,
Libraries have had a place in all societies with written works for thousands of years. They come in many shapes and sizes and each is designed to serve a different function and a different base of users. Many people are exposed to libraries in the form of their local public branch or perhaps a library in their school. For over seven decades, employees at Archbold Biological Station have had access to a different kind of library, one with the specialized materials and resources that scientists need to do the research they are engaged in.
The library at Archbold is what is known as a special library. According to OCLC, one of the largest library cooperatives, special libraries are ones in which, “Their collections are often heavily weighted to one area of interest in support of a specific user base. Because of this specialization, the libraries often house special collections that are invaluable not only to their own users but also to other researchers…” The library at Archbold is for the use of scientists, with a collection that is mostly ecology and biology driven, with other scientific works as well. This makes it a good example of a special library.
According to Librarian Emeritus Fred Lohrer, “The Library has been an integral part of the Station’s facilities since its founding in 1941. Building on the nucleus of Richard Archbold’s personal collection, the library exists to enhance the research goals of the Station and is primarily for the benefit of staff and visiting scientists.” Mr. Archbold gave his personal resources to ensure that his new field station would have an up to date catalog of books and also access to the newest publications in the established scientific journals of the time. In an era before the internet, access to a robust library of current research by other scientists was critically important. This is especially true when writing a scientific paper, which must be rigorously sourced throughout with references to the work done by your predecessors.
In 1967, a new director of research Dr. James N. Layne was hired at Archbold. Layne understood the value the library had for Archbold employees and visiting researchers so he hired the Station’s first librarian Fred Lohrer, in 1972. That same year according to Layne, “a bibliography of published works and graduate theses based upon research carried out at the Station by staff and visiting investigators was prepared.” This Station bibliography or “STABIB” would in time grow and become an online database of all of Archbold’s scientific publications, readily accessible to anyone with internet access.
According to current librarian Joseph Gentili, “Archbold’s library now contains over 8,000 volumes on the stacks compiling nearly 80 years of scientific knowledge. We also subscribe to over 100 scientific journals and other publications, ensuring our employees have access to the most up to date publications in their fields. STABIB has recently been replaced by ARCHBIB as well. This new scientific bibliography for Archbold contains over 2,500 records of publications produced in the last 77 years. At Archbold we have a robust collection for employees and visiting researchers to take advantage of.”
Libraries exist to serve users, providing information, resources, and help to these users. Just as a public library exists in your town to help its residents’ information seeking needs, Archbold has a library that is there for its users, providing the specialized skills and resources that they require.