IAU Commission 5, Working Group on Libraries

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IAU Working Group Libraries

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The IAU Commission 5 Working Group on Libraries aims to facilitate better cooperation between astronomers and librarians. The publication paradigm continues to shift from printed material to electronic formats for scientific literature, leading to an evolved concept of library services and information access. Librarians are taking on new and diversified roles. While demands for traditional services continue, the importance of accessibility and archiving of older materials is widely recognized. Long-term solutions, developed cooperatively by publishers, scientists and librarians, are needed in order to guarantee future access to today's knowledge.

The WG on Libraries was officially recognized for the first time in the Transactions of the IAU XXI A (Reports on Astronomy 1990), but librarians were involved in Commission 5 activities before that (largely due to the efforts of George A. Wilkins, President of the Commission from 1982-1988) (see Transactions of the IAU XX A, Reports on Astronomy 1987). Wayne Warren (Goddard Space Flight Center, USA) and Helen Knudsen (Califormia Institute of Technology) were the group's first chairpersons, Brenda Corbin (U.S. Naval Observatory) became Helen Knudsen's successor in 1990. From 1996 to November 2008, Fionn Murtagh (School of Computer Science, Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland) and Uta Grothkopf (European Southern Observatory, Germany) have been co-chairs. Since December 2008, Bob Hanisch (STScI, Baltimore, MD) and Marsha Bishop (NRAO, Charlottesville, VA) have been co-chairing the working group.

Some projects of interest to both librarians and astronomers (though not developed under the auspices of this group) are the International Astronomy Meetings List, a database of Reports of Observatories, listings of IAU colloquia and astronomical newsletters, the Directory of Astronomy Librarians and Libraries, a book reviews database, digitization projects of historical documents, maintenance of core lists of astronomy books and astronomy and physics journals and the mailing lists Astrolib and EGAL (European Group of Astronomy Librarians, now defunct). The IAU Thesaurus, compiled by R.M. and R.R. Shobbrook under the auspices of the IAU, may prove to be of use as a tool for automated information retrieval, provided that necessary updates can be implemented. The IAU funded the first LISA (Library and Information Services in Astronomy) conference, held in 1988 in Washington, DC (IAU Colloquium 110) and supported the second (IAU Technical Workshop, Garching, Germany, 1995). Since then, "LISA" has developed into a series of conferences which are held at regular intervals. LISA VI will be held in Pune, India, in February 2010.

The Working Group on Libraries held a meeting during the IAU General Assembly XXVII in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2009. Sessions focused on data access and preservation, science metrics, and the role of librarians in fostering research. See the Report for more detailed information.

The IAU WG Libraries held a session during the General Assembly XXVIII, August 23 & 24, 2012 in Beijing, China. The program is available.

The Working Group, together with the community of curators of telescope bibliographies, has developed a document on "Best Practices for Creating a Telescope Bibliography". It has been endorsed on 6 December 2013 by The Commission 5 Organizing Committee which constitutes a formal recommendation from Commission 5. For further information, see the IAU WG Libraries twiki page at http://iau-commission5.wikispaces.com/WG+Libraries.

Last update: April 14, 2014

WG Libraries