Keeping track of layered history<br>
Park Librarian Susan Eubank oversees the park’s rich collection of Grand Canyon-related literature. The collection contains 12,000 books, as well as periodicals, government documets and reports, video taps and DVDs and other resources
The Grand Canyon National Park library is a separate entity from the community library, its mission to collect materials that deepen understanding about the park, the Canyon, their history, ecology, geology and physical and political forces that shaped it.
It was established in 1922 under provisions in the Organic Act and houses a store of material befitting the depth and complexity of the Canyon itself. Its inventory includes more than 12,000 books as well as government documents and reports, periodicals, newspapers, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs and more.
The library’s early patrons included Ellsworth Kolb, H.H. Maddux and Miss Booram of Washington, D.C., Grace Weekly of Illinois and others. It also received a contribution of 50 reference books on loan from Arizona State University Library.
When it first opened, the library was managed by park naturalists but as it grew from 1951 onward, clerk-stenographer Louise Hinchliffe grew into the position of the first official park librarian, retiring in 1985.
Like her predecessors, Eubank’s job is to manage the collection and to add to it at the rate of about 4,000 pieces a year. The library also carries $45,000 in active periodical subscriptions.
“We collect books on Grand Canyon and books that help us understand Grand Canyon,” said Eubank. To do that, the scope is broader than just Canyon-specific books. For example, she said, they’ll not only collect books on ravens in the Canyon, but also about ravens in general.
“We have books on ravens, on elk, on deer, to give us a deeper knowledge,” she said. It also contains a rich collection of information on the Canyon’s nine affiliated tribes.
“We have every book and everything written on the Havasupai,” Eubank said.
A newer subject area that is growing in depth and breadth is the collection of children’s books related to the Canyon.
Among the most valuable pieces in the collection are the Dutton Atlas, images from which areused in the IMAX movie, and a copy of Lt. Joseph C. Ives’ “Report Upon the Colorado River of the West,” commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1861. Embarking on his expedition in 1858, Ives was the first white man to explore the floor of the Canyon.
One of the most treasured books, she said, is a hand-made volume written and crafted by fire lookout Jean Rukkila who worked at Grandview last summer.
“It’s my obsession to make this the be all and end all (in specialized collections),” she said.
Last week, with the help of a library volunteer, she was able to make several purchases to fill holes in the library’s collection. A key acquisition includes “Spanish Exploration in the Southwest from 1542-1706,” published in 1916 by Charles Scribner and Sons, and a promotional brochure produced by the Santa Fe Railroad and illustrated by renowned photographer William Henry Jackson.
Sometimes, the collection gets a boost from a donor who’s moving away and wants to lighten their load of books. The library has acquired many of its reports and similar materials that way.
“We love donations of Grand Canyon materials,” Eubank said. “We’ll take as many as we can get. The collection benefits greatly from the generosity of donors.”
Correspondence and photographs end up at the archival collection at the park’s museum.
Last fall, Eubank began coordinating with the librarian at the park’s community library, the environmental education branch and the director of the museum’s archival collection to form a loosely organized library consortium to facilitate sharing of materials and pursue grant opportunities.
They hope to deepen their relationship with Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library as well.
“Our collection complements Cline’s,” she says. “They’re similar and intertwining but Cline’s covers the Colorado Plateau while ours is concerned with the Canyon.”
The library sees most of its use from the interpretive and Science Center staff, but anyone is welcome to visit to do research or browse the materials. NPS employees and interns, Volunteers In the Parks, Albright Training Center staff and students, Grand Canyon Semester students, Grand Canyon School faculty and students and Grand Canyon Association members can check out materials.
Those who are eligible to use the circulating library can also participate in the Interlibrary Loan program, which isn’t available through the community library. Eubank said members can use the resource for any title they want, not only those related to Grand Canyon.
“I would love the community to use (the library) more,” she said.
One of the things Eubank hopes to fund with an eventual grant is getting the library’s whole catalog online. Right now, about 80 percent of it is available on the Internet, which has generated more interest.
“If people knew we had copies of ‘The Auk’ (an ornithology journal) dating back to 1891, we’d get more business. It’s a rich collection because the library has been around for so long. We have geology stuff that goes way back.”
Even without a grant, Eubank said she could accomplish much with the help of volunteers willing to come in during library hours of Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. For more information, call 638-7768.
“We’re interested in having community people come in to help,” she said. “There’s lots of work to do. We’d love people who would want to do filing, sorting or otherwise being involved with this incredible collection. You can learn a lot about Grand Canyon by handling this stuff.”