10 Questions: Jacalyn Spoon: She's Added Thousands of Volumes to the Library Shelves, but Jacalyn Spoon Probably Does More to Advance the Study and Conservation of Birds When She Conducts Workshops and Book Readings with Children, Teachers and College Students

By Spencer, Forrest Glenn | Information Outlook, October-November 2009 | Go to article overview

10 Questions: Jacalyn Spoon: She's Added Thousands of Volumes to the Library Shelves, but Jacalyn Spoon Probably Does More to Advance the Study and Conservation of Birds When She Conducts Workshops and Book Readings with Children, Teachers and College Students


Spencer, Forrest Glenn, Information Outlook


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, watching birds ("birding") is the most popular sport in the United States, with more than 51 million participants ranging from backyard enthusiasts to renowned scientists. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, located in Ithaca, New York, serves as a vital resource for these birders and anyone else interested in birds, their habitats, and their behavior. Lab staff conduct research, encourage people to respect and value birds, promote the conservation of bird habitats, and help expand our knowledge of birds through education.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Adelson Library, Cornell's 20th and newest library, provides support for the lab and for scholarly ornithological communities around the globe. SLA member Jacalyn C. Spoon, a self-described "very casual birder," is the administrator of the Adelson Library. She recently talked to Information Outlook about the library, the lab, and her work.

Q: Tell us about the Adelson Library and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Adelson Library is embedded within the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is a membership organization--it has about 29,000 members. The library primarily serves the 259 research faculty, staff, visiting fellows, students, and volunteers at the Cornell Lab. It also serves the lab's members and the worldwide birding community. About 30 percent of our visitors are from the birding community.

Adelson is mostly focused on ornithology and related subjects, such as biology, conservation, animal behavior and wildlife management. The library also holds books on birds in art and fiction.

The library was built in 2003 with member donations, and it's beautiful. Constructed with locally quarried stone and finished with cherry woodwork and furniture made by a local craftsman, it embodies the spirit of conservation without being rustic. It's full of natural light, thanks to a wall of windows overlooking Sapsucker Woods Pond, and even has a fireplace to cozy up to in the winter. It's been the envy of many visiting librarians.

Q: What are your duties at the library? What was the library like before you came on board, and what have been your contributions?

Prior to 2003, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology owned a small collection of books. With the addition of dedicated library space in the new building, donations of books and journals were collected from members to establish a 10,000-volume library.

When I began working at Adelson, all of the books and bound journals had already been cataloged and were on the shelves. I've added more than 3,000 volumes over the past five years. The responsibility for selecting new titles is shared between me and Linda Stewart at the Albert R. Mann Library, the main life sciences library at Cornell University.

In 2008, I launched the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Gallery of Bird and Wildlife Art, an online art collection. This was a joint effort by several departments at the lab and at Cornell University. It's amazing how many people it takes to pull a project like this together. Since the launch of the gallery, I've served as the registrar for the art collection of the Cornell Lab.

On a day-to-day basis, I manage the paper, book and journal collections of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates and the Macaulay Library, which are also housed in this building. I'm the keeper of all statistics big and small that are required by the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the National Center for Education Statistics, and for internal use. I'm also the designer of the Adelson Library budget, the explainer of the budget, and the cutter of the budget.

I maintain four public computers within the library, which also has two scanners and a printer available. This is a conservation organization, so I encourage people to scan the resources they need instead of printing them, with the idea that they'll save paper.

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