Water Resources Center Archives are at risk

UC Berkeley Sather Tower

Sather Tower at UC Berkeley. Courtesy of Conlawprof.

If you live in Northern California and are interested in water issues, you may have visited the Water Resources Center Archives at some point.  It’s a great library on the UC Berkeley campus dedicated to water resources, and it features an extensive collection filled with all sorts of fascinating material pertaining to water that you would not find at any other library.  This 52-year old collection is an invaluable resource for Northern California, a region that is home to many serious and varied water issues, and this library is the best of its kind that I have run across here in the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, because of University of California budget cuts, the Water Resources Center Archive is on the chopping block.  If it is cut, then its materials could be dispersed, and the collection of new materials could be halted; the archives might also be relocated outside of Northern California.  If that happens, it would be a significant and unfortunate loss.  Particularly in light of upcoming activity in Sacramento concerning the planning and governance of the Delta — the BDCP and Delta Plan, the activities of the Stewardship Council, and the development of SWRCB’s flow criteria — it is perhaps more important now than ever before that there be a centralized collection of material on water resources in Northern California, available for the benefit of academics, professionals, students, and the public at large.

Action is needed by May 12, just two days from today, if there is to be a chance of preserving the Archives.  Here is a letter that was forwarded to me about the matter.  The letter includes more detailed information, as well as the email addresses that you can contact.  Please write in very soon to show your support for maintaining the Water Resources Center Archives.  The letter is after the jump:

Respect the Water Resources Center Archives
Campaign to Preserve the Water Resources Center Archives
May 2010


Dear Water Person,

As a party interested in the UC Berkeley Water Colloquium, you probably
know that the Water Resources Center Archives (WRCA) on the Berkeley
campus of the University of California is the premier water library in the
United States.  Its collections are focused on California water and WRCA
is open to the public as well as the academic and professional
communities.  If you are not familiar with it, please take a moment to
visit the web site at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/WRCA/.  Since the WRCA
at Berkeley is at risk, so is the colloquium; please read further.

Its substantial collections include hundreds of thousands of water-related
documents.  Its small staff continue to actively acquire documents
generated by agencies, irrigation districts, retiring academics, and other
water professionals and organizations.  The library materials are uniquely
arranged and cataloged to make access very convenient.  Over 65% of its
holdings are entirely unique within the UC system.

WRCA has traditionally been funded by the University of California’s (UC)
Office of the President, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
(ANR).  In October 2009, in response to a 20% UC budget cut, ANR announced
that it would no longer support WRCA.  ANR could have reduced WRCA’s
budget by 20%, but instead chose to solicit responses to a Request for
Application (RFA) to move/disband the WRCA – a request that was sent to
only four UC campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Riverside and Merced; responses
are due on May 15th.

Early feedback from the campuses is showing that this limited scope ANR
process puts this precious and heavily used collection in jeopardy of
dissolution. To my knowledge, no assessment has been made of the intrinsic
research and societal value of the collection; please see relevant
statistics at http://respectwaterarchives.org/id6.html.  The direction the
University is taking on this issue also seems to ignore the numerous facts
concerning how vital water information is to university faculty and
students, humankind and ecosystems; please see

As a forty-year user of the Archives, I can attest to the remarkable
service provided to library users, as well as its superb holdings.  Copy
fees are reasonable; access to documents is speedy; you can copy most
items yourself (including using your own scanner or camera).  As you might
have seen on the WRCA web site, they have undertaken many special water
resources related digital projects and stay on top of this critical type
of information management.

I would like to ask you to write a letter of support, as a water person or
professional, to endorse keeping WRCA intact, fully operational and
accessible on the U.C.  Berkeley campus.  Without your help, the
collection may be broken up; reference, cataloging, and research services
by subject specialists may end; active collecting may cease; or WRCA may
move from Northern California, the seat of state government and the source
of most of the water.  If it moves, the Water Colloquia in Berkeley will,
in all likelihood, cease.

Please address your email letter collectively to:

Regents of the University of California
President Mark Yudof, University of California
Chancellor Birengeau, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Breslauer, University of California,
Director Linda Vida, Librarian, Water Resources Center Archives

Corresponding email addresses, which may be loaded as a block are:


We also ask that you copy (BCC) us on any correspondence so we can use it
later in the campaign.  Please send a copy to:


Sincerely yours,
Daniel O. Holmes, M.A., M.L.I.S.
Geographer and Librarian


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