Earth Sciences

Collection Selector

photo of JD Kotula

JD Kotula

Librarian for Chemistry, Computer Science, and Earth & Environment

Science and Engineering Library

General Purpose of the Collection

Resources in the Earth sciences are selected to meet the information needs of study, teaching, and research on the University’s Charles River Campus. The students and faculty affiliated with the Department of Earth Sciences make up the primary constituency for these collections, but a growing body of users is interdisciplinary. The application to Earth science of the analytical methodologies and techniques of other disciplines generates users at the graduate and research level from multiple programs. Additional users at the undergraduate level represent small scale campus programs or required coursework.

The Earth Sciences Department research activities include climate and Earth history, coastal and marine science, geochemistry, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrology, solid Earth and tectonics, and surface processes. Within these areas there is an emphasis on isotopes, trace elements, petrology, geodynamics, seismology, mineral physics, marine geology, paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, plate tectonics and physical oceanography.

Faculty research interests include: earthquakes (rupture process, scaling, nucleation, attenuation, and site effects); geochronology; seismic waves; coastal geology; Earth’s upper mantle; shallow marine geology; biogeochemistry; fluid dynamic modeling of Earth’s deep interior; lavas and hotspot volcanoes; silicate weathering; ocean biogeochemistry and ocean models; glacial and periglacial geomorphology; chemical signatures of oceanographic, climatologic, and tectonic processes; global carbon cycle; deep-sea sediment and microfossils; vadose zone hydrology; hydroclimatology; soil physics; mantle geochemistry; magmatic processes; and flow and transport in porous media at the micro and macro scale.

The department, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS), draws upon this depth of research and study to offer programs leading to the BA, MA, and PhD degree. Additionally, undergraduates can pursue a degree by concentrating in Earth Sciences, Environmental Earth Sciences, or Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. These activities combine to guide the level of collecting.

Most prevalent among the interdisciplinary users of the Earth science collections are the students and faculty affiliated with the Department of Geography and Environment, Department of Astronomy , the Center for Remote Sensing, the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, the Boston University Marine Program (BUMP), and Metropolitan College.

Literature published in the field is predominately from national and local geological societies or government agencies. A majority of the journals in the field are society press publications. The library has an equal number of society press and commercially published journals. Many monograph purchases are based upon faculty requests. Other criteria for selection include relevance to current research activities at Boston University, need, geographic coverage, and the importance of the author or work in the subject field.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
English is the predominate language of the collection. Acquisition of new works is limited to English language publications.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
The collection is diverse; it ranges from regional to global aspects of geology. To support current research, there is an extensive effort to collect materials on the following regions: the Arctic; Antarctica, North America, with a strong focus on Canada, Alaska, California, Arizona, and the New England area; Africa; and Europe.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
There are no restrictions with respect to intellectual content, movements, or schools. Historical works that indicate the development of the discipline are acquired selectively.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Emphasis is on the latest available information as it appears in current journals and monographs. Older material is selectively acquired in response to special requests or to replace or add an important earlier title. The monograph collection primarily contains materials published in the last fifty years. The library maintains full runs of most core geology journals, some starting in the late 1800’s.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The primary subject areas of the collection correspond to the following Library of Congress call number ranges:

  • G 575-890 : Polar Regions
  • GB 450-460 : Coastal Geomorphology
  • GB 651-2598 : Water; Hydrology, including Ground Water, Rivers, Lakes, and Glaciers
  • GC 377-399 : Marine Sediments
  • QE 1-999 : Geology
  • Z 6031-6035 : Geology Bibliography

Collected Selectively:

  • TN 263-271 : Mineral Deposits
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

The core collection, including newer monographs, reference material, a small number of current journals, and selected bound journals, is located at the Science and Engineering Library. Most current journals are collected in electronic form only. Increasingly, many bound journals, some foreign language works and older monographs are stored off site. Mugar Memorial Library holds some popular works and most older monographs not in storage. The Astronomy Library and the African Studies Library hold small, but significant, Earth Sciences collections.

The literature of geology is interdisciplinary; Earth scientists draw upon principles and techniques from related subject areas.

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
To support research and study in the African Studies Center, the African studies selector will also acquire works related to environmental studies in Africa.
Works on geodesy are collected by the astronomy selector and housed at the Astronomy Library.
The biology selector may also acquire works on biogeology and paleontology.
General Science
The general science selector is primarily responsible for collecting works on the environment. To support courses taught by the Earth Sciences Department, the Earth sciences selector will also acquire works on the geological processes in environmental science.
Other than works on marine sediments, oceanography material is acquired by the geography selector. Works on remote sensing are acquired by both geography and Earth sciences selectors. Materials on hydrology, polar regions, coastal geomorphology and marine sediments are collected by the Earth sciences selector.
The physics selector is primarily responsible for collecting works on geophysics and geomagnetism.

Types of Materials

Scholarly monographs, periodicals, electronic resources and reference materials including indexes and abstracts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, bibliographies and handbooks.
Collected Selectively
Popular works, conference publications, technical reports, field guides, surveys, government reports, textbooks when best available treatment of topic, historical works that indicate the development of the discipline, laboratory manuals, and directories.
Not Collected
Theses and dissertations, maps, aerial photos, travel guides, working papers, and atlases.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Stone Science Library, located at 675 Commonwealth Avenue, includes a small collection of related materials.

The science collections in the member libraries of the Boston Library Consortium, particularly those at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (strong in oceanography, geophysics and seismology), Boston College (strong in regional geology and geomagnetism), and Marine Biology Laboratory/The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (strong in marine geology) are other local resources of significance.

The Boston Public Library is a regional United States depository for reports and documents supplied by various government agencies.