SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

Natural History Caucus

Broadly defined, natural history is the scientific study of the natural world. It includes the specific disciplines of anthropology and archaeology, botany, zoology, paleontology, geology, meteorology, and astronomy. It therefore crosses many disciplines. Our mission is to serve as a forum for the cooperative development of library collections, the delivery of information services, and the interpretation of natural science information resources.

The Natural History Caucus works closely with several divisions of SLA that have similar or overlapping interests, particularly the Museums, Arts & Humanities Division, the Environment and Resource Management Division, and the Biological and Life Sciences Division to organize programs at the SLA Annual Conference. It also publishes news of interests to its members in Biofeedback.

Current Conference Program - 2016

Sunday, June 12

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
What Good Is a Museum Library in the 21st Century?

The emphasis of the session will be on the role of libraries (and librarians) in natural history museums (and other museums, for that matter) in enhancing the role of their museum’s collections for research and society. Museums are writing transformative grants, including designing projects to invite their public to help expand their digital spaces, and libraries are working right alongside them (e.g. a grant to create an interactive online game to entice people – all sorts of people – to transcribe old field notes from the 19th and 20th centuries through crowdsourcing). You will learn about large projects such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and smaller ones such as cataloging old lantern slides from early expeditions. These vintage photographs (basically, a lantern slide is a positive print of a photograph on a glass slide) may show organism’s habitat ranges from a century or more ago and can be compared to recent Google Earth images to assess if there evidence of habitat destruction through natural processes or through the impact of climate change.

Moderator: TBA
• Marleene Boyd, Librarian at the Bill Laxon Maritime Library, New Zealand Maritime Museum
• Dorothy Barr, Reference librarian, at the Ernst Mayr Library, Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and Natural History Caucus Convener
Presented by: Biomedical & Life Sciences Division (Lead) with the Natural History Caucus (Planning), and Museums, Arts & Humanities Division
Sponsored by: TBA

Monday, June 13

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Natural History Caucus Business Meeting

All interested SLA members are invited to join us for our Annual Business Meeting.

Speaker: Dorothy Barr, Research Librarian, Harvard University Libraries, Natural History Caucus Convener
Presented by: Natural History Caucus
Sponsored by: TBA

Wednesday, June 15

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Tour of the Academy of Natural Sciences
Join members of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division and the Natural History Caucus for a tour of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Discover dinosaurs, dioramas, a butterfly garden and much more. There is also a wonderful Library that is open to the public afternoons and houses, among other treasures, a double-elephant-folio-sized, original copy of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America. Just outside the Library is an exhibit called “We Wrote the Book,” featuring about two hundred books written by men and women with ties to the Academy. You will have an opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues as well as visit one of the nation’s oldest and most preeminent natural history museums.

Location: The Academy of Natural Sciences is in walking distance from the Convention Hotel
How can you get there?
1) Walk in a group from the Convention Hotel, or
2) You can meet us in front of the Academy.
Presented by: Biomedical & Life Sciences Division (Lead) and the Natural History Caucus (planning)
Cost: $15 Members of Biomedical & Life Sciences Division and the Natural History Caucus | $15 Non-Member | $10 Student
No-Host Lunch: Consider joining us for lunch after the museum’s visit.

Past Conference Programs

June 14, 2015
Biomedical & Life Sciences Division Vendor Relations Networking Lunch
Co-Sponsored by: Biomedical & Life Sciences Division (Lead) and Maryland Chapter


Genetic Mutations: How Do They Arise and What Do They Do? Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Co-Sponsored by: Biomedical & Life Sciences Division (Lead) and DBIO Medical Section

June 15, 2015
Learning and Libations: The Annual DBIO Medical Section Reception and Business Meeting
Co-sponsored with DBIO Medical Section (Lead) and Biomedical & Life Sciences Division

June 8, 2014
The Science and Politics of Sustainable Seafood
Co-sponsored with Biomedical & Life Sciences Division, Social Science Division - International Relations Section, Social Science Division, Science & Technology Division, Food, Agriculture & Nutrition Division, Environment & Resource Management Division

June 10, 2013
Biodiversity Heritage Library and Medical Heritage Library
Co-sponsored with DBIO

July 18, 2012
SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills - Preparing Now for the Future
Co-sponsored with Museums, Arts, & Humanities Division

June 12, 2011
DBIO Division Vendor Relations Networking Lunch
Co-sponsored with DBIO and Medical Section

June 15, 2011
Specify 6: Museums Specimen Database
Co-sponsored with Museums, Arts & Humanities Division and the Taxonomy Division

June 16, 2010
Measuring Large-Scale Environmental Change: Tools and Data
Co-sponsored with DBIO

June 16, 2009
Ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, and tools of the research field
Co-sponsored with DBIO

June 18, 2008
Biomonitoring: A New Data Tool for Risk Analysis?
Co-sponsored with DBIO and the Environment & Resource Management Division.

June 5, 2007
Coexisting with Wildlife: What’s that coyote doing with my cat?
Co-sponsored with DBIO and the Environment & Resource Management Division

Natural History Caucus Convener

Dorothy Barr ('12 -'17)
Ernst Mayr Library
Harvard University
26 Oxford St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: (617) 495-1348

Past Officers

Dean Walton ('09 -'11)
Ruth Gustafson ('05-'08)
Steven Johnson ('02-'04)
Sharon Levy ('01-'02)
Janet Dombrowski ('00-'01)

Rev. February 2016