I will bet many of you do not know that Yosemite National Park has a Library. This gem is tucked away, upstairs from the Museum. Two days per week, people who love all things Yosemite may venture up the stairs behind the little Museum gift shop into a cozy area filled with floor to ceiling movable shelves of books on everything about Yosemite. As I wandered up and down the stacks, I found sections on the Native Americans who called the Valley their home, early climbers, geology, botany, fauna, the history of the Park, the earliest European settlers in the Valley, the unique architecture in the Park, and on and on. I found books duplicated in my personal library by John Muir and collections of Ansel Adam’s images.
The pro tem Librarian asked me when I had last seen a card catalog — you remember the kind, with all the little wooden boxes. “Well, actually in Widener Library, when I was in grad school at Harvard,” I replied (I am dating myself). Photographic images are similarly cataloged on index cards with a brief description and a copy of the image. There also is an extensive collection of news clippings on the Park. There are audio files and a few dvds. I cannot stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to digitize this collections (and what a monumental job it would be).
As I have discussed the digitization project with other librarians and friends, they remind me of budgetary constraints for our National Parks. Surely my proposed project would be too expensive. I feel the Library of the greatest National Park in the world must have its collection available to the world of researchers and admirers of the Park. The Library needs a large scale benefactor to pay for this project. The project would be a drop in the bucket for certain Foundations. I am sure I could muster a small army of interns from the SLIS program at SJSU to spend a few months of their time in the Yosemite Valley, were I in charge of the project. What wonderful experience that would be for a new librarian to place on his or her resume!
I have enjoyed writing grants for deserving projects. I now am dedicating some of my time each day to search out a benefactor for the digitization of the Yosemite research library. I urge my readers to get out the word. And, on your next visit to Yosemite Valley, wander up the stairs to the library.
The library is open to the public on Wednesday and Thursdays. http://www.nps.gov/yose/historyculture/collections.htm