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Monarch butterfly, from the illustration on the cover of one of the issues of The Conservationist on display.

Environmental Protection and Conservation

April 2015

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.

New York State Documents

Left display case, showing a selection of issues of The Conservationist magazine

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.

center display case, with NYS documents related to environmental conservation

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:

  • Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Community Planning, Adirondack Park Agency (N.Y.), 1985.
  • Adirondack Lakes Survey : an interpretive analysis of fish communities and water chemistry, 1984-87, Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation (N.Y.).
  • Conservation highlights – 1967.
  • Friends and foes of wild life: a discussion of certain predacious birds and animals from the standpoint of the sportsman, trapper and farmer, 1919.
  • A History of Half a Century of the Management of the Natural Resources of the Empire State: 1885-1935 : Forests, Wild Life, Parks, Waters (Cover title: Fifty Years of Conservation in New York state, 1885-1935), by Gurth Whipple, 1935.
  • A Tradition of Conservation: Report to New York, 1988.
Right display case, showcasing federal documents.

U.S. Documents

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.

  • Our World, Your Turn: activities to protect our environment and your health, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2001.
  • What's Up with Our Nation's Waters, 2002.
  • The Lorax Curriculum Guide, 2013.
  • Endangered Means There's Still Time (poster), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1993.
  • 1992 the Year of Clean Water: America's water resources--protect them, conserve them, and use them wisely (poster), Environmental Protection Agency, 1992.
  • Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands: A Toolkit for Teachers and Interpreters, 2002.

Books and Zines on Environmental Topics

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.

Three issues of the Hudson Valley Green Times.

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.

  • The New Crucible: A Magazine about Man and his Environment.
  • Alternatives: Perspectives on Society, Technology and Environment.
  • Links: A cooperative magazine from Manitoba linking individuals and organizations concerned with Environment *Peace * Social Justice.
  • Green Anarchist.
  • Otterwise: For kids who are into saving animals and the environment.
  • Hudson Valley Green Times.
    Published by the Hudson Valley Grass Roots Energy and Environmental Network.
  • Run Your Car on Sunshine: using Solar energy for a solar powered car, by James Neal Blake.
  • Real Goods: Alternative Energy Sourcebook.
  • Green Multilogue.
  • Earth Day Green Pages Directory: To make every day Earth Day.
    A project of the Hunger and Development Coalition of Central Ohio.
Some of the zines on display.


  • Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, by Heather Rogers, 2005.
  • Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource, by Peter Rogers and Susan Leal, 2010.
  • The Future of Water, by Steve Maxwell and Scott Yates, 2012.
  • Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis, by Brahma Chellaney, 2015.
  • Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton, 2013.
  • The Law of Energy Underground: Understanding New Developments in Subsurface Production, Transmission, and Storage, edited by Donald N. Zillman, Aileen McHarg, Adrian Bradbrook, and Lila Barrera-Hernandez, 2014.
  • The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving North America's Predators, by Cristina Eisenberg, 2014.
  • The Predator Paradox: Ending the War with Wolves, Bears, Cougars, and Coyotes, by John Shivik, 2014.
  • Making Environmental Law: The Politics of Protecting the Earth, by Nancy E Marion, 2011.
  • The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet, by Heidi Cullen, 2010.
  • A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, by William deBuys, 2013.
  • Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope - or Worst Nightmare - for Averting Climate Catastrophe, by Eli Kintisch, 2010.
  • Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, by James Rodger Fleming, 2010.
  • U.S. climate action report, 2002: third national communication of the United States of America under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United States Department of State.
Some of the books that were displayed.

Exhibit curated by Diane Madrigal, John Brady and Matthew Bernstein.

Last Updated: September 9, 2022