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Thursday, June 20 • 10:45am - 12:15pm
Geoscience Re-interprets Special Collections Related to Coal Mining, Natural Gas, and Oil Wells

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Each of the papers in this session will address three of the conference themes: the capacity of our existing collections to illuminate “hidden” histories relevant to climate change; the possibility of new services or outreach initiatives to support public awareness related to climate change and the environment; and the role of special collections in communities responding to climate change, including relative to issues of environmental justice.

Dr. Harrison Wick will discuss climate change and environmental disasters related to Pennsylvania coal culture. His research has led to the discovery of many hidden resources in the Special Collections at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) that can be better utilized to understand climate change and environmental disasters.

Dr. Steven Hovan will discuss his research into the abandoned oil and gas wells that exist in Pennsylvania. There are literally hundreds of thousands of wells that were drilled throughout Pennsylvania since oil was first discovered in 1859. Well Mapper is a mobile application to provide a simple, user-friendly tool to submit the location, photographs, and environmental conditions of abandoned oil and gas wells. Well Mapper hopes to capitalize on crowdsourced information from citizen-scientists about abandoned oil and gas wells and to mine data collected from historical map collections to add new information about the location and condition of abandoned well sites. This research provides state agencies, university researchers, and private stakeholders new tools to collaborate and to reduce the impact that these wells have on public safety and environmental conditions in Pennsylvania. By utilizing historic mining maps, researchers can identify the location of abandoned mines to study and address environmental issues such as the release of methane gas from natural gas production and its impact on global climate change. Quantitative studies using archival records to document climate change are critical to understanding global climate change and the impacts human activities may have on the Earth and its atmosphere.

Dr. Miriam Intrator and Stacey Lavender will discuss how Ohio University Libraries is approaching the challenges of preserving and promoting collections that tell important stories of climate change and environmental impact. We hold several manuscript collections documenting over one hundred years of the history of coal mining in southeastern Ohio and its lingering effects on the Appalachian region. These collections contain papers, maps and plans, photographs, and audiovisual materials, and cover topics including daily life for those working in or living near (or on top of) mines, labor organizations and mine workers' rights, health and safety concerns, and short and long term effects on the climate and environment. When viewed as a whole, the personal stories illuminated in these disparate collections reveal issues of national environmental importance. We feel a responsibility to preserve and actively share this history with our community and the larger public, but there are several gaps in description, preservation, and access that prevent us from doing this as fully as we would like. Improved housing, enhanced inventories, and more comprehensive finding aids are critical for reading room access, while digitization projects and a more unified web presence for these collections would help us reach patrons virtually. We seek to promote engagement with these materials through exhibits and other public programming, along with developing partnerships and collaborations with interested faculty and University initiatives such as mAppAthens in order to promote use in the classroom. In our presentation we will discuss early steps to prioritize and address these issues while working within the confines of limited staff and budget.

avatar for Beth Turcy Kilmarx

Beth Turcy Kilmarx

Assistant Dean of Libraries, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
I am currently the Assistant Dean of Libraries for Assessment, Development and Technical Services at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Univeristy Libraries (IUP). I am responsible for initiating several policy, planning and assessment projects including the creation of the University... Read More →

avatar for Miriam Intrator

Miriam Intrator

Special Collections Librarian, Ohio University

Stacey Lavender

Ohio University
avatar for Harrison Wick

Harrison Wick

Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Since 2007, Dr. Wick has served as the Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Many of the archival research requests that he answers relate to institutional history, the industrial heritage of Pennsylvania, and the Rare... Read More →
avatar for Steven Hovan

Steven Hovan

Chairperson, Geoscience Dept., Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Steve Hovan is Chairperson of the Geoscience Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include ancient climates and global wind systems, and more recently the environmental impact of “legacy” oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania. In particular he works... Read More →

Thursday June 20, 2019 10:45am - 12:15pm EDT