Anyone who has browsed the natural resource section of a national park library or the files in the resource manager’s office probably has encountered handwritten numbers beginning with the letters “NP” or “BibKey” on the cover or first page of print materials. These numbers indicate that the materials contain park-related information that has been deemed significant and that has been cataloged. The numbers link these materials to corresponding records in NatureBib, the NPS natural resource bibliographic database developed by the Natural Resource Program Center (NRPC) in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The cataloging of published and unpublished park-related reports, journal articles, conference proceedings, theses, dissertations, and similar documents provides a valuable information resource for park managers, scientists, interpreters, and other users. The bibliographic database makes finding citation information easy. However, it does not ensure proper management of or easy access to the physical items themselves—some of which are one of a kind—that are scattered throughout park offices, libraries, and files. Through NatureBib the National Park Service (NPS) has invested significant resources to locate, identify, and electronically catalog park-related natural resource information. The physical location of these items is not regulated and cannot easily or reliably be determined. Fortunately, the NPS Service-wide Museum Program has a system for preserving, cataloging, and managing archival materials that maintains the links between the items and their records in NatureBib.
One of the strengths of the Service-wide Museum Program is its ability to preserve archival materials in perpetuity, regulate their location for the long term, and provide access. The Museum Program maintains the Automated National Catalog System (ANCS+), a database that facilitates cataloging and is a key accountability component for NPS museum collections. The museum personnel in a park, however, often do not have the resources or expertise to evaluate the scientific significance of information as thoroughly as park or regional natural resource staffs. This presents the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of two programs to develop a powerful research tool for park managers, scientists, interpreters, and other users while ensuring the long-term preservation of these important materials.
In this article we discuss how staff at Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado and Utah) was able to capitalize on the strengths of the Inventory and Monitoring and Museum programs to solve a records management problem involving historical documents dating to the early 1900s. We also discuss the influence of this project on the archival cataloging protocols for the Intermountain Region and NatureBib.
The cataloging of published and unpublished park-related reports, journal articles, … and similar documents provides a valuable information resource for park managers, scientists, interpreters, and other users.
Mitchell, L. M., and A. Elder. 2008. Case Study: Collaboration of the Natural Resource and Museum programs: A research tool for information archives at Dinosaur National Monument. Park Science 25(1):52–55.
Available at https://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience25(1)Summer2008_52-55_MitchellElder_2593.pdf.