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From the Stacks 

April 22, 2011

Map Madness!

My name is Tristan Campbell, for the last two weeks I’ve been an intern in the library here at California Academy of Sciences. I’m in the last year of a three year Masters program in Library, Archives, and Information Sciences at the University of British Columbia, and one of the requirements of the program is a two week practicum/internship. Most people in the program do these at local institutions in Vancouver, but I was lucky enough that there is a UBC connection here through librarian Rebecca Morin who had a database project I could work on.

The quick answer that I give when people ask how I chose my Masters program, is that I want to connect people with information, preferably through computers, and ideally using open source software. So when the opportunity to build a database for the California Academy of Sciences Library using open source software came up I jumped on it.
I’ve spent my time here building a database for the map collection here in the library using USGS maps, and up until now access to them has been managed using hand written indexes prepared by a long-time volunteer. The amount of work that must have gone into hand writing those indexes is incredible, my job was to build a database that could use and preserve those indexes. The database is very much a work in progress, my time here was far too short to put all of the data from the indexes into the database, and there is some work to be done by a library volunteer before the whole system is complete. But the basic structure is there, and it will be very useful for providing access to the map collection.

Two weeks is far to short a time to spend at a place like this, but it has been quite an experience. The work environment could not be more supportive and positive, and the materials they have here are amazing. One day, just for a change of pace, I got to help turn the page of the Audubon on display in the Library reading room, amazing. I had pretty high expectations coming here, and the experience has been far better than I had hoped for. So huge thanks to Rebecca, the Library and Archives team, and everyone else at California Academy of Sciences who have been so good to me, I only wish it could have been for longer.

Filed under: Library News,Rare Books — Intern @ 3:29 pm

April 19, 2011

Cordell Bank

Cordell Bank is located north of the Gulf of the Farallones and about 22 miles west of Point Reyes. Discovered in 1869 by Edward Cordell, it remained unexplored until Robert Schmieder and his team of researchers conducted numerous dives in the area from the late 1970s till the mid-1980s. Schmieder formed the Cordell Expeditions non-profit organization to research the vibrant marine community of Cordell Bank.

The California Academy of Sciences is participating in a project to curate and archive the historic photographic slides of Cordell Expeditions and make them available to the public online. A joint effort of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Cordell Expeditions, and the California Academy of Sciences, the project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Through this project, the Academy will become the archival repository for the original photographic slides taken by the divers. Over the years, Cordell Expeditions produced more than 3000 images of the diverse community of Cordell Bank. Cordell Expeditions’ divers were the first to document this amazing habitat and their photos were instrumental in demonstrating the need to establish the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Soon these historic photos will be available online.

You can get a sneak preview of these amazing images below.

Here’s a common sight on Cordell Bank:

Cordell Expeditions © California Academy of Sciences

Cordell Expeditions/ Don Dvorak © California Academy of Sciences

The vibrant underwater community includes many different species:

Cordell Expeditions/Don Dvorak © California Academy of Sciences

And here’s a member of the dive team:

Cordell Expeditions/Jerry Seawell © California Academy of Sciences

-Kristin Jeffries, Library Assistant for Archives and Digital Collections

Filed under: Archives,Photography — Archives & Special Collections @ 4:01 pm

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