Yosemite National Park is 2.5-3 hours from where I live. I know, I’m pretty lucky, but I don’t go very often. Before this past Friday, the last time I went was in 2009!
UC Merced is the closest university to Yosemite National Park. The university does some research at the park and also has a partnership with the park for the Yosemite Leadership Program. In the spring, before I actually began working at the UC Merced Library, the park’s librarian, Virginia Sanchez, visited the library for input on modernizing the park’s library. It was a reciprocal visit, so we got to visit the Yosemite Research Library last Friday!
We toured the library and museum at the park, and we also visited the archives, which are located off-site. I had no idea how varied the collections are in Yosemite–baskets, dry and wet specimen, photographs, books, paintings and other artwork, etc. I was also glad to learn that the park works with the seven federally recognized native groups from the area, as well as some of the unrecognized native groups.
The library is at the very top of the park’s museum. It’s a small space that is in need of modernization in order to make the collections more accessible. The library is currently working on moving to the Library of Congress Classification system. There are some cabinets that need to be cleaned out, some items that need to be stored properly, and there are some things that would make great candidates to be digitized and put online. There is actually a campaign going on right now to raise money to modernize the library.
This year, the national park system turned 100, and Yosemite celebrated 90 years as a park. There is a treasure trove of materials waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. I think this is definitely a worthy cause.