2019 Meeting of Geological Survey Librarians

Summary Report of the Meeting of Geological Survey Librarians, 25-26 March 2019, at Geoscience Australia, Canberra

The geological survey librarians of Australia have worked together for many years, but opportunities to meet in person for extended discussions have proven elusive. The meeting of 25-26 March 2019 at Geoscience Australia (GA) was made possible by funds provided by Geoscience Australia’s Chief Science Information Officer, Tanya Whiteway, the encouragement of Chief Scientist Dr Steve Hill, and the support of senior staff at each of the State and Territory surveys.

Pam Aagaard (SA Department for Energy and Mining); Lyn Barham (NSW Department of Industry); Jane Bowland and Iris Kovacli (NTGS Minerals and Energy InfoCentre); Cecelia Carroll (Qld Departments of Environment and Science & Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Library Services); Kylie Lau (Mineral Resources Tasmania) (via Skype); Brian Knyn (WA Dept. of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety/GSWA) (via telephone); and Chris Nelson (N.H. ‘Doc’ Fisher Library, GA).

The primary purpose of the meeting was to learn about the current state of library services available at the geological surveys across the nation, and to discuss how closer cooperation between us, and with other relevant bodies, could benefit all of our respective clients. Opportunities were also taken to provide tours of the GA’s Library, Repository and National Mineral and Fossil Collection. These all provided background information on the meeting’s discussions.

Session 1: Library status reports
Library status reports were provided by each jurisdiction. Although survey libraries are quite diverse, the librarians are all dedicated to providing the best client services they can and have all become resilient to changes in organisational structure, resources, space, staffing and technology. All work closely with survey repository managers and most have contributed to the digitisation of legacy publications. Most services, such as acquisitions, reference and inter-library loans are very similar, but many delegates were surprised at the volume of original cataloguing of new Australian geoscience publications done at GA (by Elizabeth Fredericks). A final notable commonality of reports given was on the longevity of service by librarians at each of the surveys – clearly, we enjoy our work.

Session 2: Improving access to Australian Geoscience resources
The attendees considered how national and overseas users access Australian geosciences literature, and how access could be improved. Brief historical recaps on AESIS (the Australian Earth Sciences Information System) and GA’s role in GeoRef were given, as well as demonstrations of AusGeoRef, the Australian Stratigraphic Units Database and the AUSGIN Portal.

Chris advised that the cost and value of the GeoRef indexing has been questioned within GA in recent years, and GA is open to discussions on how the indexing, its costs and volume might be shared.

Ollie Raymond emphasised that the interoperability of data-sets on AUSGIN depended upon their compliance with agreed standards, and noted two jurisdictions had no data catalogs under the Data & Publications tab of AUSGIN as these do not comply with ISO 19115. This provoked discussion after-wards on the possibility of a more inclusive solution, based upon the many international standards used for data entry and sharing in library catalogues (MARC/RDA, LCSH, Z39.50/OAI-PMH protocols, etc.). If all survey libraries linked their catalogue records to publications held in their respective repositories, a single search and access point to all survey publications might be feasible. Several present agreed to explore this further with relevant colleagues in their agencies.

Session 3: Collaboration
The attendees reviewed how their various library services might benefit from closer collaboration.

While ILL fees are small, many occur each year and these take considerable time to process. Freely exchanging ILLs within the group would reduce this burden and, for LADD users, could be easily set up. All agreed to implement free reciprocal ILLs between the surveys. Consortial acquisitions were more complex. While three of the survey libraries have received a discount by jointly renewing their GeoScienceWorld subscriptions for years, not all surveys need this package. All agreed to consider similar opportunities in future on a case-by-case basis.

All agreed that collaborative digitisation of legacy publications was welcome, and that the AGGSNA reports of the 1930-40s and Explanatory Notes of the 1:250k and 1:100k geological map series would be ideal candidates. Members will share information on extant scans of these series – with the aim of producing complete, high-quality digital runs of them as soon as possible.

All also agreed to share data on long journal runs held only in print in their collections, with the aim of identifying duplicate runs across the surveys and creation of a distributed retention plan allowing each library to cull some print runs, while ensuring access to the runs they retain to all other libraries.

Session 4: Library Promotion
The attendees considered how the survey libraries could be better promoted, as a group, or in partnerships with relevant professional bodies. All agreed the Australian Geoscience Information Association (AGIA) and the Australian Library and Information Association) (ALIA) were seen as key associations of interest, AGIA being most closely aligned to what geoscience libraries do; and ALIA for its greater resource base and support it already provides to many Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Both also hold conferences, seminars and/or workshops of interest to the survey librarians.

Other bodies discussed included the Geological Society of Australia, which also supports a number of specialist groups (though not, currently, any focussed on libraries/information) and would expose the survey librarians to potential new clients of their services. And the Government Geologists Infor-mation Committee is clearly of interest, given its terms of reference and the many representatives it already has from the surveys on its committees.
All agreed that multiple associations would prove most beneficial. Several present undertook to approach their current GGIC representatives and acquire further information on the scope and procedures of the Committee on behalf of the group.

Concluding remarks
Given the positive feedback from all attendees, Chris was pleased to advise that GA has indicated support for a second meeting to be held in 2020. A parting challenge to the librarians, to develop a vision for the future development of the survey libraries, was accepted.

The survey librarians agreed on this vision statement shortly after the meeting:
The National, State and Territory geoscience libraries of Australia function as a cooperative and collaborative network for the purpose of providing timely and relevant geoscience information to their agencies and clients, and ensuring the collection, preservation and promotion of current and legacy geoscience information and data for the future.

Chris Nelson

Manager, N.H. ‘Doc’ Fisher Library | Discovery & Engagement

Digital Science & Information | GEOSCIENCE AUSTRALIA


(L to R) Pam Aagaard (SA), Yuliya Pearson (GA), tour leader Andrew Owen (GA), Lyn Barham (NSW) and Cecilia Carroll (Qld) in the Repository stacks.

(L to R) Pam Aagaard (SA), Yuliya Pearson (GA), tour leader Andrew Owen (GA), Lyn Barham (NSW) and Cecilia Carroll (Qld) in the Repository stacks.

(L to R) features Iris Kovacli and Jane Bowland (obscured)(both NT), Pam, Andrew, Yuliya (obscured), Lyn and Cecilia.  Andrew is displaying  one of the historical oil samples held at GA.

(L to R) features Iris Kovacli and Jane Bowland (obscured)(both NT), Pam, Andrew, Yuliya (obscured), Lyn and Cecilia. Andrew is displaying one of the historical oil samples held at GA.