From hurricanes to astrogeology: Princeton's geosciences librarian and collections serve national, international communities


In 2018, Chemistry, Geosciences, and Environmental Studies Librarian Emily Wild joined Princeton University Library (PUL) after serving as a hydrologist and librarian (physical scientist) at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for over two decades. Wild’s knowledge of the USGS data, publications, and applications – the world’s primary source of geosciences information – along with PUL’s extensive collections, makes the University a new hub for international geosciences research. 

Budget cuts that included Wild’s position leave the USGS without a reference librarian, making it more difficult for researchers to access resources related to land, water, geological structure, natural hazards, geosciences technology –  including modeling and data collection – as well as mineral resources. Princeton helps fill the void by encouraging Wild to share her expertise with librarians, water managers, emergency management leaders, researchers, and scientists from around the world. Wild serves this community, as well as Princeton’s students and researchers, through one-on-one support, webinars, and courses. 

“Few librarians know how to find data within the publications and institutional history of the USGS,” said Wild, “but I can get the information they need in minutes.”

Quick and open access to geosciences resources can be critical. For example, communities affected by natural hazards need access to USGS data and resources in real-time.  

“If a community is hit by a hurricane, librarians need data for flooding and the erosion of the beaches, before and after,” explained Wild. “Or if a community no longer has access to a library because of a volcanic eruption, earthquake, or wildfire, I can show them how to find freely available sources.”

Researchers and scientists interested in international water supplies, minerals, and mining, also seek out Wild’s knowledge of USGS publications, including worldwide terrain intelligence reports, military geology, commodity assessments, and conflict minerals. These resources can be particularly relevant to research and initiatives related to military conflicts and war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan

Wild’s uranium research and proficiency with uranium resources information, including USGS collaborations with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), are also assets to the scientific community. When remote researchers were looking for uranium data within a copy of Braddock’s 1959 thesis, which examines the geology of South Dakota’s southern Black Hills, Wild provided an online and concurrent USGS publication by Braddock and verified the data with PUL’s original print copy of the 1959 thesis.          

In addition to Earth, Wild helps researchers find data and publications for Mars and other planets from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center. This astrogeology program and new subfield of astrogeology were founded by Eugene Shoemaker after he received a PhD from Princeton University in 1960, where his graduate work on Meteor Crater contributed to extensive USGS-AEC uranium and nuclear research collaboration.    

Since January 2020, Wild has provided a series of geosciences webinars through the Federal Depository Library Program, each viewed by over 500 attendees. Webinar topics have included: an overview of geosciences; energy, minerals, and uranium resources; atmospheric and oceanic sciences; and water resources. These webinars are vital resources for science librarians and geosciences faculty with the shift to virtual education environments during the coronavirus pandemic.      

Upcoming geosciences events

Workshop: “Introduction to Geoscience Librarianship,” as part of the Geoscience Librarianship 101 Workshop, Oct. 26-27

Webinar: Library Research for Natural Hazard Events: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Volcanoes, and Wildfires, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.

Conference: Geoscience Information Society, Oct. 28-30 (Wild will serve as President of the society until fall 2021)

To stay up-to-date on geosciences information, please join the Geoscience Information Society’s GEONET listserv via Princeton. View webinar schedule and recordings here. Contact Emily Wild, Chemistry, Geosciences, and Environmental Studies Librarian, at

Published October 19, 2020. 

Written by Emily Judd, Communications Coordinator

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director, Library Communications