A New Solution to the Uncertain Fate of a Geologist’s Library
George D. Klein

Editor’s note: Portions of this article appeared in the March 2002 issue of AAPG Explorer and are reprinted with permission.

In July 1999, I wrote a Comment for Geotimes entitled “The Uncertain Fate of a Geologist’s Library,” drawing attention to the estimated 10 million geological books, maps, journals and other reference materials belonging to a large number of retiring U.S.-based geologists that likely would be discarded. One of the people who read the article and became alarmed was Deborah Ajakaiye, a Nigerian post-doctoral geophysical researcher at the University of Houston. Ajakaiye had firsthand knowledge of critical shortages of geological reference books and journals in African universities. She discussed this problem with Martin Cassidy, a doctoral candidate at the university and principal of CASMAR Consulting who had retired from Amoco. They considered ways in which some of these reference materials could be collected and distributed to university libraries overseas that needed these references and could put them to good use.

The biggest stumbling blocks to implementing such a plan were costs for collecting, storing, packing and shipping these references overseas. Cassidy had already started to collect books and journals from retired and deceased geologists in Texas and surrounding states, keeping them in storage lockers at his own expense. He successfully persuaded the University of Houston Department of Geosciences to provide students, at no cost, to catalog and pack the books and journals.

Finally, because of his prior work in industry, Cassidy knew that oil companies working overseas often desire to help the education of nationals in countries where they have worked. He approached several companies about the possibility of their including books destined for certain universities in countries where they operated in their regular container shipments and arranging for import. One company, Conoco, in association with the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, agreed to underwrite a shipment of books to be distributed to universities in Nigeria in 2001. Thus, the concept of establishing a “publication pipeline overseas” was born. Even better, a solution to the disposal of private geological libraries emerged.

Currently, books are being received and arrangements are being made to ship them overseas. Two shipments were sent this past summer to Thailand underwritten by ChevronTexaco. An effort is being made, through well-established contacts, to send a shipment of 5,000 books and journals to the University of Kabul using government resources. That university’s library was stripped clean of every holding since the mid-1990s and has a massive rebuilding job to do.

Cassidy formed a local committee in Houston with geologists who worked for major oil companies, academics and consultants, including this author. Moreover, Cassidy met with Robbie Gries, then president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), to encourage AAPG’s involvement. She, in turn, appointed Cassidy’s existing committee as a permanent AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee, making it eligible for possible financial support from the AAPG Foundation, as well as related support to implement the collection, storage, packing and shipping of books overseas. As a signal of her own commitment to this important effort, Gries personally authorized transfer of $3,000 from the AAPG foundation into a special committee account.

Because the initial focus of the AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee was in Houston, committee members immediately implemented a plan to enlarge the committee membership to fully represent the various sections and interests of the entire profession on an intersociety basis. It is expected that the enlarged membership will provide books from sources nationwide, including retired faculty at universities in their region. Finally, all committee members would use their overseas contacts to provide the committee with lists of publication needs at overseas universities to assure the best match and avoid duplicate shipments.

It must be emphasized that books in all areas of geology are being collected to provide a broad base of reference materials for overseas university libraries.
Thus publications in areas removed from petroleum such as mineral deposits, high-temperature geochemistry, and deep mantle geophysics are also welcome. In fact, such donations are needed.

Geotimes readers who wish to donate their books and journals to the AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee, or know of retiring geologists who may wish to make such donations, are encouraged, indeed, requested to contact Martin Cassidy, Chairman, AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee, c/o Dept. of Geosciences, University of Houston, 312 Science and Research Building 1, Houston, TX, 77204-5007; pager: 713-616-5853; e-mail. Financial donations for this effort also are welcome and encouraged. Donations, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to the AAPG Foundation and earmarked for the AAPG Publications Pipeline Committee.

Klein has taught at the Universities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Illinois (Champaign-Urbana). In 1993, he became Executive Director of the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. In 1996, he opened a consulting firm (SED-STRAT Geoscience Consultants Inc.) focusing on petroleum geology. E-mail

Opinions and conclusions expressed in this section by the authors are their own and not necessarily those of AGI, its staff or its member societies.

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