Harvard College Library

The Environmental Information Center Moves Forward with a New Librarian

December 11, 2001 -- The Environmental Information Center (EIC) embarks on its seventh year as the locus for interdisciplinary research on the environment with a new librarian, plans for influential collection expansion, and an intense commitment to interdisciplinary research.

"We want the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives to be the first place scholars think of when they investigate the shaping of international environmental policy," said George E. Clark, Environmental Resources Librarian and Curator of the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives. Clark, who stepped into his new position this fall, previously worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional office in Chicago, where he served as a social scientist.

George Clark, Environmental Resources Librarian and Curator of the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives, aids a student in research.

Founded in 1995, the EIC was created in a collaborative effort between the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Harvard College Library. Its purpose was two fold, to foster research and communication among all areas of study that deal with environmental issues and secondly, to help coordinate further acquisitions of environmental materials across the university. "Initially, the EIC existed principally as a Web site that offered information pertaining to the environment such as job listings, upcoming events, links to Web sites and works by Harvard professors," said Diane Garner, Librarian for the Social Sciences of the Harvard College Library, who administers the EIC.

After the Web site was smoothly functioning, the EIC recognized another need: the need for a place to collect and to provide intellectual access to reports, correspondence, and documents generated by the environmental movement. In 1997 the EIC established the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives to fill this need, and since its inception has developed a significant collection of monographs, gray papers, and government documents that concentrate on international environmental policy.

Clark hopes to expand the Archives current collections and is working on a strategic collection development plan. Because the environmental movement is relatively new, much of the pertinent material about it exists as reports and papers rather than monographs. As a result, most of the Archive's holdings have come from key individuals in the environmental movement. The EIC works closely with faculty to locate principle environmental figures who are looking for a place for their materials to be accessed and preserved.

Some of the more notable acquisitions include: the Thomas M. Berry Papers, recording the life of this instrumental eco-theologist; the Maurice F. Strong Papers, documenting a 30-year career in environmental fields; the Marion Lamm Mercury Collection, relating to a serious outbreak of Minamata disease among the Ojibwe Indian population of Northwestern Ontario; and the Peter S. Thacher Environment Collection, detailing his experiences as senior advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.

Amy Christensen, Archivist, looks through a box of donated material and begins to assess how it will be organized.

"The materials have not been perfected for publication, they show the underlying workings and politics of the movement," said Amy Christensen, Archivist, Environmental Information Center. She also noted that the collections offer a way to analyze the movement as a whole.

When asked about the future Clark said, "In order to continue to meet the interdisciplinary challenges of environmental questions, it will be important for the Environmental Information Center to nurture connections with other libraries." Clark looks forward to collaborating with other libraries, "A question concerning the environment may arise in any area -- humanities, government documents, the sciences. The Environmental Information Center supports many interdisciplinary pursuits, and we hope that librarians in these other areas will point people in our direction when confronted with a question that involves the environment," said Clark.

Further information about the Environmental Information Center and the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives can be found on the Harvard University Center for the Environment Web site, http://environment.harvard.edu/index.htm.




This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
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