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Preserving the Past for the Future the importance of archival information in forestry. Roger Mills Biosciences and Environmental Sciences Librarian and Manager, Oxford Forest Information Service Oxford University Library Services August 2005. In many disciplines: Forest and plant sciences
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Preserving the Past for the Futurethe importance of archival information in forestry Roger Mills Biosciences and Environmental Sciences Librarian and Manager, Oxford Forest Information Service Oxford University Library Services August 2005
In many disciplines: Forest and plant sciences Taxonomy Climatology Environmental change Geography Ecology Etc etc Earth sciences Biochemistry Medicine Development studies Economics Social sciences Law Trees matter
Data about trees • Takes a long time to collect • Maybe several generations • How to keep comparable data accessible • The Oxford story • Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
following a search of your on-line catalogue, I see that you retain the following journal :- Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur das Forstwesen…..the one that I am interested in is by COAZ, J, entitled "Kulturversuch mit auslandischen holzarten inder Waldung des Schlosses Marschlins, Gemeindegebiet von Igis, in Graubunden". It was published in 1917… (15-12-04) I am trying to track down a report by C. E. Lane Poole who was an Australian forester. He wrote a report called "The Forests of Erromago" in 1948. Erromago is an island in the New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu) ….It may well be a semi-manuscript , rather than a formal publication. (5-1-05) It was a most productive visit to your library for'grey' literature on the useful plants of tropical Africa for the PROTA project (11-01-05) For example I am working for a German biodiversity research group studying the forests of Kakamega in Kenya and of Budongo and Mabira in Uganda. We are attempting to trace the forest cover changes for these areas and I have heard that you have some archives relating to them. Is that true?I am interested in old maps or absolutely any written archival material relating to these forests, and of any date, but the older the better (12-12-04) I am writing to enquire about a book which I understand my Grandfather wrote when in the Indian Forestry Service. He retired in October 1926, so I imagine it was written before that time, but I really don't know….The reference I have seen was "Henry Farrington, the Chief Conservator, was a specialist on botany; he was the author of a very useful flora of the trees of the Northern and Berar Circles". (11-01-05)
IUFRO • Information Clearing House to record forest data planned 1906 for Switzerland • War intervened, funds lost to inflation • British Imperial Forestry Institute founded 1924 • Gathered UK-generated reports, indexed in Current Monthly Record • Passed to Imperial Forestry Bureau 1938 • Forestry Abstracts 1939-
Clearing House • IFI/IFB – Oxford by default • Post-WW2 declaration: ‘authors should generally send a copy of their work to Forestry Abstracts’ • Free deposit still works • With a little help from my friends • CABI/Oxford Agreement still current • Recording/storing/retrieving not free • Why should Oxford pay? • Why? Why? Why? Why?....
Threat no. 1 • Space • New building 1950, completely full by 1960 • Microfilming programme funded by Ford Foundation 1964 • Through support of one man – Frank Wadsworth, USDA • Three-year funding stretched to 30 years through sales • Now going digital – at a price
Threat no. 2 • Academic priorities change • Undergraduate teaching: forestry > agricultural science > biology • Postgraduate teaching: forestry > forest science > environmental science • Research: whole plant > molecular • And will change again…
Threat no. 3 • Institutional re-organisation • Departmental reorganization: forestry / botany / agriculture > Plant Sciences 1985 • CABI centralization – away from Oxford 1987 • ‘Oxford’s Forestry Felled’ • You don’t do forestry any more, do you? • So why should I send you my stuff?
Threat no. 4 • £££££££ • Resource allocation • Full economic costing • Reduce staff • 1985: 12 >1995: 8 > 2000: 2.5 • Reduce space • 1985: 3000m > 2000: 2000m • You can’t keep a growing lad down
Something’s got to give • Restructuring • 100 libraries > one library • Gradually • Plant Sciences > OULS: Nov 2000
Identity crises • Oxford Forest Information Service • Collections may move, service remains • But not everywhere • UK agriculture: 50% of organizations in membership of IAALD/Aslib merged, moved, changed owners, role, funding source in past decade
Lest auld acquaintance be forgot • IUFRO Directory • Joining hands: • EBHL / CBHL • FORELISE • GFIS
New publishing paradigms • Speed communication • Wider communication • Multiple versions • Multiple formats • Archival conversion • Oxford-Google: 1 million 19th century books being digitised • Oxford Digital Library • Oxford Eprints
The Biggest Threat of All:It’s on the web • Well it was…. • Race against time for • Electronic archiving • Electronic legal deposit • Preserving e-mail? • Born digital – die digital • Endless refreshment • Endless cash • Who pays? • And why? why? why?
We’re working on that… • The Problem of the UK Forest Research Programme Archive • Closing in March 2006 • 320m shelving • 40 years of research, £50m of public money • Who keeps it? Who makes it searchable? Who pays?
Who cares? • We do! • So it’s just as well we’re still alive… • And kicking: