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Emily Lin

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Archives evacuated to UC Merced Library

Fri, September 18, 2020 3:00 PM to Fri, October 16, 2020 5:00 PM

Amidst the destruction and fast-changing nature of this year’s wildfires, UC Merced Library was able to answer a call for help.

On Monday afternoon, Ward Eldredge, curator for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon (SEKI) National Parks, contacted UC Merced librarian Emily Lin to inform her that he was preparing plans to evacuate the archives. The Castle Fire, part of the SQF Complex wildfire, had expanded considerably over the weekend and was approaching Dennison Ridge, near the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park and the park headquarters. Given the growth of the fire, he and other park employees had already begun to evacuate. Eldredge asked if the UC Merced Library had the ability to house any of the materials.

After saying yes, Lin worked with Eldredge and Associate University Librarian for Library Operations, Eric Scott, over the course of the next day to make arrangements. Because the Park Service had difficulty procuring moving services in such a short window of time, Scott coordinated with UC Merced Facilities Management to arrange for University Moving Services to assist with transport while organizing UC Merced Library staff to assist with unloading of the collections under COVID-19 restrictions.

National Park Service employees loading archival records on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Paul Hardwick, NPS) Library staff unloading collections on campus 
National Park Service employees loading archival records on Tuesday afternoon (photo courtesy of Paul Hardwick, NPS). UC Merced Library staff unloading collections (photo by Rebecca Gourevitch).

An estimated 600 linear feet of documents capturing the history of the two national parks—as well as slide collections, herbaria collections and other artifacts—were transported safely to UC Merced. Sequoia National Park was established in 1890 as the second national park in this country, while Kings Canyon National Park was established in 1940, subsuming General Grant National Park. The two parks have been administered jointly since World War II and have played an important role in the development of fire management practices and modern understanding of fire’s role in healthy ecosystems.

Library staff moving collections into the building Collections safely transported to UC Merced Library 
Collections safely relocated to UC Merced Library (photos by Eric Scott and Rebecca Gourevitch).

Mutual interest in preserving important park records and expanding research access through digitization led to a loan of two of the Parks’ collections to UC Merced Library in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown had put a pause in digitization plans. With this rescue, the Library and the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks look to raise attention to the importance of saving and digitizing these valuable collections.

The Library would like to recognize the following UC Merced employees who assisted with transporting and unloading the collections:

Library Staff
Ross Anastos
Donald Barclay
Fabiola Chavez
Derek Devnich
Rebecca Gourevitch
Sunni Nelson
Eric Scott
Jonathan Wilcox

Library Student Assistants
Austin Ashworth
Kalib Caples
Isabella Quiroz
Krista Walsh

Facilities Management Team
Carlos Estrada
Johnny Anjel
Eric Ferreira
Ernie Solano
Rodney Trevathan

Merced County Cooperative Extension Tours CARA

Fri, December 20, 2019 8:00 AM to Mon, January 20, 2020 11:55 PM

On Thursday, December 12, 2019 the UC Merced Library hosted a visit from the Merced County Cooperative Extension office. As our work archiving and digitizing the historical records of the office nears completion, we invited the staff as well as the retired advisors who had been involved with the initiation of CARA to learn about the progress and outcomes of the project. The visit was an opportunity for the Cooperative Extension staff, some of whom had not previously been on campus, to tour the library as well as to see the archives and our digitization process.

Merced County Cooperative Extension staff tour the archives

The visit was also a valuable opportunity for the UC Merced Library staff to learn more about the work of Cooperative Extension in Merced County and its history. In addition to Maxwell Norton and Richard Mahacek, two emeriti who have been involved in steering the project since its pilot phase, we were delighted that three other farm advisors emeriti whose names have become familiar to us were in attendance: Bill Weir, Lonnie Hendricks, and Robert Scheurman.

Merced County Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors 

UCCE Merced current advisors and emeriti, (back, left to right): Maxwell Norton, Richard Mahacek, Lonnie Hendricks; (front, left to right): Bill Weir, Robert Scheurman, Scott Stoddard, Russell Hill.

County Director Scott Stoddard introduced the Merced County Cooperative Extension staff and provided an overview of current programs. We learned that the three top vegetable crops in the county are sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and cantaloupe melons (yes, melons are included among "vegetable crops"). The staff and emeriti, meanwhile, took interest in the library’s new furniture on the fourth floor, our scanning equipment, and the records we have collected from other counties. They also engaged in animated discussion to figure out what was in this photo now available on Calisphere, identified as “A.E. Montgomery”: 

According to the discussion, this appears to be a fig tree—possibly a fig orchard grown by A.E. Montgomery—based on the pruning performed, the thin skin of the tree, and the fact that figs are somewhat sensitive to cold (the “teepees” in the background could have been used to protect the trees from cold and frost).

If you would like to learn more about the history of agriculture in Merced County, this 1958 report provides a view of top products and trends in the middle of the last century, as well as some poetry and political commentary/humor mixed in:

CARA and Agricultural Education at the World Ag Expo

Thu, February 21, 2019 12:00 PM to Fri, March 1, 2019 6:00 PM

UCANR Welcome Table at WAE 2019“Do you want to test your knowledge of California agriculture?” we asked visitors at the World Ag Expo last week. Young and old, students and seniors, teachers and parents, journalists and farmers, the confident and the hesitant, drew near and took part in our quiz game. Their task? To match three pictured items to the appropriate California county: Humboldt, in the North; Merced, in the Central Valley; and Ventura, in southern CA. As some participants guessed lemons in Humboldt, avocados in Merced, and timber in Ventura, we prompted them to consider regional geography and climate.

When we revealed the answers, visitors learned about the Klamath beetle, introduced by UC Cooperative Extension advisors and entomologists in Humboldt in the 1940s to combat a weed that had taken over 150,000 acres of rangeland and posed a danger to grazing livestock. The solution employed by UC scientists was the first, and highly successful, case of using a biological control against an invasive species in the state. They also learned that Humboldt County is the leading producer of timber in California, and has historically been an important producer of livestock and dairy products.

Lompoc Ornamentals & Row Crop Pest Management ProjectParticipants learned about the significance of sweet potato production in Merced County, as well as figs, and tomatoes, introduced by Italian immigrants. They learned that Ventura is the leading producer of lemons in the state, and of the value of avocados and nursery plants produced there. Given that many were not aware of the range and scale of agriculture across California, we directed them to CARA, to explore the history and research involved in the development of agriculture in the state.

We were delighted we had the opportunity to be part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources presence at the Expo, and to help promote the work of UC Cooperative Extension, which has had such historic impact on the state. One school teacher from the Central Valley was so taken by our game that she wanted to share it with her students. As CARA develops, we want to continue and expand this kind of community engagement, so people can know and appreciate what grows here.

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