How We Grow our Collection: Yellowstone Research Library

December 02, 2013 Posted by: Jessica Gerdes, Librarian
Newspapers and newsletters collected by the Yellowstone Research Library, 2013.

A popular question on our tours is, “How do you get new books?” We get actually get new materials in a number of different ways, some of which may be unexpected. 


The Yellowstone Association is a major supporter of the Yellowstone Research Library (YRL) and their generosity helps to purchase new items every year.  Though the books, theses, DVDs, CDs, music, etc. come mainly off of our wish list, we librarians also peruse book sellers for the latest Yellowstone materials. The Association also supports the journal and serial subscriptions that are purchased each year to help aid park staff in keeping up with the latest scientific and historical articles written both about the park and about subjects that will help them do their jobs.

Another popular question on tours is whether we accept donations. Yes!-with the caveat that items eventually added to the YRL collection still have to fall under our Scope of Collections. We get a number of donations every year from authors, park visitors, relatives of former park employees, and other folks from all over the world. If you have checked our catalog ( and noticed that we are missing an item, please let us know ( The three collections areas (library, museum, and archives) have a Scope of Collections that specifically defines the parameters of what we can accept. Basically, all items in the collection must directly connect to Yellowstone and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem though we also accept items from and about gateway communities that don’t have other repositories. In other words, we will collect materials related to Cooke City and Gardiner (both in Montana) because these towns located right outside of Yellowstone entrances don’t currently have a dedicated library/museum that can safely and securely store their histories. The YRL Scope of Collections also limits our specific collection to two copies of any item. If you see that we are already maxed out but you have an item you would like to donate, we can suggest some other repositories to donate to.


We also get a number of transfers from park staff as well as other libraries. When folks leave the Park Service, they will often gift the books that they have used extensively in their jobs to the library. At the same time, other libraries may discover that they have Yellowstone items that they no longer need and, rather than throwing these materials way away, will send them to us. Something that you might not think of is that the library is a depository for the park so we also get the new publications that are published by the Park Service each year. Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements, and books about the park are just some examples of what we might receive.


A surprising category that you might not think we collect includes “free” items, like community and park newsletters. We have all but two issues of the Gardiner Howler and are working on creating entire runs of the Thunderbear and Grizzly Gazette (employee newsletters). Every year, we also collect a representative sample of the brochures used in and around the park.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for a tour to ask us questions about our collections. We are always happy to discuss current and potential acquisitions, just give us a call at 307-344-2264.


library, collections, acquisitions

Last updated: November 30, 2015

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