Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

North American Mammals and the American Black Bear, Ursus Americanus: A Guide to Sources

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

North American Mammals and the American Black Bear, Ursus Americanus: A Guide to Sources

Article excerpt

In the Spring 2010 issue of RUSQ (volume 49, number 3), Stefanie R. Bluemle introduced an occasional series for The Alert Collector on delineated bibliographies, columns that illustrate the working method behind bibliographic creation. Ella L. Ingram and Kelly Myer Polacek offer The Alert Collector readers the second such column, explaining their process of collection building, working from the broad to the specific. Ingram and Polacek begin by creating a core list of works relating to North American mammals and end with a focus on the American black bear. Their model can be applied to a wide range of subjects and offers a framework for collection development librarians who must craft collections without the support of expert bibliographers.

Ingram and Polacek met as graduate students at Indiana University in Bloomington. Ingram holds a PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior and works at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she is an associate professor of applied biology. She spent her sabbatical as a volunteer at the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. While there, she worked on a variety of projects relating to the available research and trade publications relating to black bears. Polacek combines her MLS and MS in biology with her work as a reference librarian at Montana State University. This work is her second contribution to the Alert Collector column. She has a special interest in understanding cognitive development as it relates to overcoming misconceptions students have in the sciences. Ingram and Polacek have published together in the education literature; however, this work is their first joint effort in librarianship.--Editor

The diversity of North American mammals merits their consideration for inclusion in both small and large library collections. Here we summarize the best works of the late-1990s through the 2000s and note early works that remain as important now as in the past. This guide has a wide breadth of coverage that includes annotations of books, periodicals, reference materials, web resources, important publications, and videos. It includes instructions on how to build a general North American mammal collection, and provides an example of how to use the guide to develop a subcollection for the American black bear. It serves as an annotated bibliography, a collection development tool, and a springboard for scholars new to the field.

Mammals large and small are among the most recognizable parts of the natural world. In urban areas, companion animals, residents of the local zoo, even various rodents can be identified by name; in rural areas, parents invariably point out cows, pigs, and sheep to children. Many individuals travel to protected or wild places specifically to encounter North America's remaining megafauna. This fascination with mammals is not new: indigenous Americans revered many mammals and our country's forefathers wrote extensively about America's mammalian richness. Today, some mammals flourish from human interaction (e.g., urban rats) while others suffer the consequences of human activity (e.g., the 36 mammals listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Americans are drawn to stories and images of North American mammals in a wide variety of contexts--children's books feature mammals as main characters, the polar bear is the symbolic representation of climate change, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stages regular high-profile protests, and outdoor or nature magazines regularly include stories of close encounters with mammalian wildlife. The more than 400 mammals existing today compose a major component of the biological milieu and human history of North America.

To provide insight into the general collection development process implemented, we targeted a single mammal for special treatment. The American black bear regularly makes the evening news or the morning newspaper--there have been almost one thousand articles referencing the black bear in U. …

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