In honor of Earth Day (April 22), the NYS Library's April exhibit focused on issues related to the environment. First held in the U.S. in 1970, Earth Day has since grown to a worldwide event, with activities held to raise awareness about environmental issues and demonstrate support for environmental protection in over 190 countries.
In this exhibit, State documents focused on environmental conservation efforts in New York, while Federal Documents highlighted some educational materials. In the smaller display cases, books and "zines" from the Library's collections illustrated the wide variety of environmental issues facing the world.
The Conservationist is a publication of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It's April-May 1970 issue noted the occasion of the first Earth Day --which was conceived as an "environmental teach-in," geared in particular toward colleges and schools -- with a "Special Message to Youth." In describing Earth Day, the Commissioner of the NYS Conservation Department quoted from some advance advertising for the first Earth Day that had appeared in the New York Times in January:
April 22 -- Earth Day
"A disease has infected our country. It has brought smog to Yosemite, dumped garbage in the Hudson, sprayed DDT in our food, and left our cities in decay. Its carrier is man. The weak are already dying, trees by the Pacific. Fish in our streams and lakes. Birds and crops and sheep. And People ... Earth Day is a commitment to make life better, not just bigger and faster; to provide real rather than rhetorical solutions. It is a day to reexamine the ethic of individual progress at mankind's expense... It is a day for looking beyond tomorrow. April 22 seeks a future worth living. April 22 seeks a future."
The selection of issues on display, published from the 1950s to the present, came from the State Library's extensive collection of New York State documents. The NYS DEC and the State Library have been working together to make past issues of The Conservationist available online, through the Library's Digital Collections.
Although the Department of Environmental Conservation was created in 1970, conservation was not a new idea in New York. DEC had been preceded by the NYS Conservation Department (1926-1970) and the Conservation Commission (1911-1926) and some conservation efforts went back even further, to the late nineteenth century and the establishment of the forest preserves in the Adirondack and Catskill regions. The publications displayed in the middle case, also from the New York State Documents collection, illustrated over a century of work accomplished by DEC and related agencies:
Items from the State Library's collection of Federal Documents focused on environmental education materials from U.S. government agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.
In the smaller display cases by the elevators, books and zines (self-published periodicals with a small circulation, often covering niche or fringe topics) from the Library's collections provided a glimpse of the diversity of environmental issues that confront us, including climate change, water shortages, pollution, energy, recycling, destruction of natural resources, biodiversity, and food issues.
Zines: The environmentally-focused zines on exhibit came from the Library's Factsheet Five Collection (Manuscripts and Special Collections, call number SC20329), which includes a large number of zines that were submitted to Factsheet Five, a publication that catalogued and reviewed zines, during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Exhibit curated by Diane Madrigal, John Brady and Matthew Bernstein.