Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nasa Goddard Homer E. Newell Memorial Library

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD is one of many National Aeronautics and Space Administration facilities in the United States. Goddard is a research facility with an area of focus on anything that goes into Space that doesn't involve people, which is a simplified explanation from one of the library staff during a tour of the library space at the center.

The library at Goddard is unique in that it closed it's doors to the physical space in January 2012 and has become a fully digital service. The internal memo released in October is describes some of the reason for the change. Here is another article about the shift. The staff now primarily focus on bibliographic and citation research, are embedded with divisions to provide current awareness services on information relevant to research groups, and provide reference services via phone and email to NASA staff. This library is another example of a closed collection serving NASA staff and affiliates, and not open to the public. The Library Website is only available through NASA VPN and on the center campus.

The library does have a Facebook Page, and some information is accessible to the public through virtual library portals. For example, the Balloon Technology Database, which is a collection of digital documents and citations for print materials related to balloon technology. Also, the Library Repository provides access to publications and resources created by the NASA Goddard Space Center. More information about the repository is available here. Another virtual library provided by NASA, administered by NASA Center for Aerospace Information is the NASA Technical Reports Server. For general information and science related reference questions, the public is directed to contact their local public libraries.

I had the opportunity to tour the NASA Goddard Library a few months ago, and was very impressed with the space. I didn't think to take pictures at the time, but the structure is similar in design to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is a large room with high ceilings and massive picture windows looking out onto the other buildings at the center. There are stacks on two levels, with a Mezzanine. There is office space, seating areas, and computers. The overall design has a very 1960's feel. As the library only recently closed the physical space, the future of the physical collection is still being determined. However, the collection development and new acquisitions has shifted focus to entirely electronic resources. The group did have the opportunity to take a tour of some of the labs, and to see where parts of the James Webb Space Telescope are being worked on. I took some pictures of the lab, and the visitor's center, which is definitely worth the visit if you have the opportunity. These are from my phone, and it was a cold day in January, so not the best pictures, but you get the idea.

Lab area
Lab Area

Mirrors for the James Webb Telescope
Model of the James Webb Telescope
Display of Rockets outside Visitor's Center
Space Capsule

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