A little-known asset of the Indiana Academy of Science is the John Shepard Wright Memorial Library. Named for an important benefactor and former chairman of the Library Committee, this collection of more than 12,000 volumes is located in the Indiana State Library and Historical Building in Indianapolis. The Academy holdings (about 4,500 linear feet) are maintained in closed stacks but are available through institutional loan to members and non-members. The Academy archives, maintained in filing cabinets, also is housed at the State Library.
The Academy originally provided for a librarian in its first constitution of December 29, 1885. In 1898 a tentative agreement between the Academy and the Indiana State Library gave custody of Academy materials to the State Library, although they remained Academy property. Later, in 1899, the Academy acquired the library of the Brookville Society of Natural History and investigated having the entire collection cataloged by the State Library.
The Academy library has been housed with the State Library since its construction and opening in 1935. A 1907 agreement with the Indiana State Library remains in effect today. Essentially, the agreement provides that in return for housing and maintaining the Academy collection, the State Library will have use of the material. The agreement also stipulates that the State Library will use exchange copies of Academy publications to build the Academy’s collection, and that the State Library will pay for non-member distribution of the Proceedings.
The Academy collection consists largely of non-subscription journals and continuations in science and natural history. These materials are received from scientific research institutions on an exchange basis. Material is acquired from almost every state and approximately 75 foreign countries. Many of the titles in the collection are quite valuable, relatively scarce, and not widely held in other U.S. libraries, especially not in Indiana. To supplement the exchange program, for several years a small sum has been budgeted from Academy operating funds to purchase items not available on exchange. The Academy also provides funding for commercial library binding of its journals. All Academy exchange partners receive the Proceedings and the now suspended Monograph series, with selected partners also receiving special publications. The State of Indiana subsidizes approximately half the cost of printing the Proceedings, with the balance paid by J.S. Wright Foundation funds. Exchange materials are mailed from the Indiana State Library at state expense, and efforts are made to ensure equity in exchanges. Through its library, Academy authors are assured worldwide distribution of their papers.
Use of the Academy library is primarily by inter-library loan and has increased dramatically since the advent of online bibliographic databases. All current cataloging of the Academy collection is performed on the OCLC database, which is also used for inter-library loan. In 1994, 629 requests were processed, mostly from academic libraries. Requests for Academy-owned material come from as far away as Amsterdam or British Columbia, and requests from national research libraries are not unusual. While the Academy library is available as a reference collection for public use, material may be borrowed by any Academy member, either in person or via inter-library loan. Access to the collection is available through the public catalogs of the Indiana State Library. Records for many Academy titles have been converted to a machine-readable format and may be retrieved online over the Internet. A guide to electronic access is available from the Academy librarian (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Reference service to the collection is provided by the Reference and Government Services Division of the Indiana State Library.
This small but active library is an important addition to the scientific research and education resources of Indiana. It should be a source of pride for Academy members to own such a fine collection. Indeed, the Academy library is just one more reason why the Indiana Academy of Science is a very special group.
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