ABOUT "THE GRAND CANON" AND RAVEN'S PERCH

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CONTACT:  GrandCanyonBiblio@earthlink.net

raven

ABOUT "THE GRAND CANON" AND RAVEN'S PERCH

This bibliography began in 1974, with print editions appearing in 1981, 1990 and 1993. In 2000 a searchable database was implemented at www.grandcanyonbiblio.org, hosted by the Grand Canyon Association (now the Grand Canyon Conservancy). Due to technological issues the database is no longer updated. THE GRAND CANON is the definitive version; although it is not a queryable database it is fully searchable and includes hyperlinks for internal navigation if one is using the digital format rather than a selection printed out.

I have always maintained a “master copy” of the bibliography as a word-processed document, from which the online database has been updated and to which voluminous non-online improvements have been made. However, there must be some further use for the “master copy”. In light of the facts that the last print edition of the monographic bibliography was in 1993, and that tens of thousands more citations had accumulated since then, in 2010 I refashioned the master into THE GRAND CANON to make the monographic product available again in its contiguous whole. Formal editions were released on digital disks in 2012 and 2015; this, the third (2019), posted to the Raven's Perch Media website, is hugely expanded, greatly embellished, and aesthetically improved over the previous two editions.

The Raven's Perch imprint was created to accommodate the 1st Edition; its website was established in 2018. The perched-raven colophon is a detail from a lithograph published in 1861 based on artwork by Balduin Möllhausen during the Ives expedition on the lower Colorado River and across the southern part of the Colorado Plateau in 1858. (See the homepage of this website for that illustration and further credits.) The raven was also selected as a personal favorite, for this bird's mischieviously intelligent interactions with each other and humans alike, and for its habit of gathering and caching objects.

The volume titled THE GRAND CANON is more than the definitive version of the Grand Canyon–Lower Colorado River bibliography. It also includes introductory material and essays that offer a new generation of researchers insight into the process and craft of bibliography. This material explains how this bibliography is constructed, and it tenders some commentary on the purpose and utility of bibliographies in general. And finally, there is a nomenclatural appendix, which itemizes the worldwide influence the name “Grand Canyon” holds, used for the names of other places and in impressively diverse literary senses. It testifies to the great impact that the very idea of the Grand Canyon has had ever since it was made known to the world at large in the mid-19th century. Together these round out the intended monographic presentation of THE GRAND CANON. I realize full well that if this were entirely in print format, those who are accustomed to printed materials would find it easy to use despite its huge size. But it is not likely to appear in print, at least commercially, so it is produced as a PDF document. Fortunately, this allows for a friendlier type size and page format, with a substantial use of hyperlinks; and it is fully searchable. Unfortunately, its huge size means that some searching in the PDF document can be slow, an undesired effect that is likely to dwindle with time as technology progresses.

Even with its book-like presentation THE GRAND CANON still will be used only in pieces; readers will home in only on specific sections and will probably not read through all of the front matter. With printed materials, it is convenient to refer to front matter to find the answer to a question that may arise concerning (for example) the format of citations, or about the intentions behind the whole work. In a digital environment, it is less likely that a user will remember that there is a large segment of front matter containing much supporting and explanatory information. One may counter that, instead, this should have been done as a series of web pages. I agree, to the point only that the web environment is useful and immediately accessible especially in smaller parts; but I disagree, too, because THE GRAND CANON preserves the whole, contiguous product as a single item. I created THE GRAND CANON to restore the monographic presentation of the overall bibliography that allows its users to examine the whole of a single product. Further, it is geographically dispersed in multiple identical copies (on digital media) as well as its PDF files being website-based, as a hedge against permanent loss such as would occur if a single website were to disappear.

In THE GRAND CANON the greatest change to the bibliography even since 2010 is some substantial reorganization within several parts of its parts. There still are 32 subject-specific parts, but several of them are now subdivided to accommodate more focused research needs. Also, some of these parts include their own appendices of informative material that goes beyond the simple bibliographical citation. The detailed contents page shows these divisions.

COMPOSITION

THE GRAND CANON is maintained in Microsoft Word (currently Microsoft Office Professional 2013, using Compatibility Mode to correlate with earlier versions in which the document was first prepared). All page compositions are created by the author. Word is used rather than another page-making software product so as to ensure a longer life to the page compositions. Even though Word is a proprietary commercial product, it is very widely used and thus its support and longevity is somewhat more assured, perhaps moreso than other proprietary products; and for these reasons too perhaps the ability to migrate to another product may be easier. For distribution and posting online, the Word document is converted to PDF by Adobe Acrobat Pro (Acrobat 2015). All font libraries used in the Word document are embedded and thus available in the PDF document; all foreign language and special characters will be displayed.

The basic font utilized throughout the bibliography is Verdana, selected for its easily read, non-serif design. Essays and other texts generally use Bookman Old Style, utilizing a more familiar appearance for such kinds of reading texts. Arial and other fonts are also used occasionally. Specialized fonts for displaying non-Roman characters are used, too.

Bibliographical citations are generally displayed in an 8-point font on 11-point line spacing (“8 on 11”) in a single column, which offers greater legibility and easier browsing. Citations under a first-author’s name are grouped between horizontal rules. Anonymously written items are grouped in years separated by rules. Such extravagant use of space is warranted because the bibliography is designed to be browsed without undue fatigue, and the economic concerns of page production such as those for print products are not a consideration here.

In its digital format as a PDF document pages of THE GRAND CANON may be scaled to any screen size (larger or smaller, as the reader wishes) without degrading the resolution, and the work may be viewed in side-by-side pages on-screen using the two-page view feature and displaying cover page separately (thus odd-numbered pages will appear on the right as in conventional book design). Enlarged resolution of graphical images may reveal some degradation due to the original format of an image, and the fact that the PDF is saved using the “Minimum Size (publishing online)” feature so as to allow quick navigability within the browser environment. Color is used in the bibliographical citations only as a matter of aesthetic embellishment for visual attention and reader convenience. It is not significant to the use of the bibliography. Non-color printouts made from the PDF may be able to somewhat distinguish the colored fonts in a different shade of gray.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Earle Spamer
Earle Spamer

My first field of study was geology at Rutgers University in the 1970s. For several years I was also in commercial publishing, writing about computer technology (before personal computers). In the early ’80s I began a long period of employment in natural history study collections, first at the New Jersey State Museum, then in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. My 18 years in the Academy’s employ began in 1986; before that I had been for 12 years a student research assistant and volunteer there. While on staff I was at various times a collection manager in several departments and collections — invertebrate paleontology, paleobotany, mineralogy, malacology, general modern invertebrates (a collection of groups other than mollusks, insects and arachnids), diatoms, and botany; and continued to volunteer in vertebrate paleontology. My publications have embraced all of these fields — as well as historical topics about the Grand Canyon and Colorado River regions. Concurrently, for seven years I was editor and managing editor of the Scientific Publications branch of the Academy, which publishes peer-reviewed articles and monographs from authors around the globe in America’s oldest uninterrupted line of serials on natural history, from 1817. My last five years at the Academy was as its Archivist, for which I had studied in the graduate program of Temple University’s Department of History. On leaving the Academy in 2005 I continued my affiliation as an elected Research Associate. From 2005–2018, I was Reference Archivist in the research library of the American Philosophical Society, a polymathic institution in Philadelphia founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin as an American analog of the Royal Society in London. Since November 2018 I am enjoying an active retirement continuing all of these interests.

Following two visits to the Grand Canyon in 1974 that included my first canyon hikes, I began work on a bibliography of the canyon and the lower Colorado River country. In 1981, the Grand Canyon Natural History Association (later the Grand Canyon Association and currently the Grand Canyon Conservancy) published the first edition as a part of its new Monograph series of scholarly publications. A second edition appeared in 1990, with a supplement in 1993. In January 2000, a completely revised bibliography was placed on the Association’s website as a searchable database, which was frequently updated. In 2012 I privately published the first edition of THE GRAND CANON, a much-embellished resurrection of the print monograph, but in digital (PDF) format that can be viewed in book layout on screen or on paper. The third edition, significantly revised and including the years 1535–2018, citing 90,000 items, was published in January 2019 to coincide with the centennial of Grand Canyon National Park and the sesquicentennial of John Wesley Powell’s first canyon-rivers expedition.

In 1989, the International Geological Congress convened in Washington, D.C., which also offered an ambitious series of field trips across the United States, including the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. My first river trip was with the IGC. In 1990, I began working as a geology interpreter on yearly summer trips for a Colorado River outfitter in Grand Canyon, continuing this until 2001. I also participated in two scientific study trips through the canyon, on one of which I prospected for living mollusks, the first such investigation ever to have been made along this canyon river. In 1994, I had attended a Penrose Conference sponsored by the Geological Society of America, “From the Inside and the Outside:  Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the History of Earth Science”. This conference for the first time brought earth scientists and historians together to discuss how each approach research in their complementary fields; from it I developed new perspectives in my research activities, which extended into revisions of the Grand Canyon–Lower Colorado River bibliography. In 2000, I attended a geology symposium at Grand Canyon on “The Colorado River: Origin and Evolution”, the proceedings of which were co-edited by Richard A. Young and me. In 2012 I was honored with the annual Pioneer Award from the Grand Canyon Historical Society. Among many affiliations I hold life memberships with the Grand Canyon Conservancy, the Grand Canyon River Guides, and the Arizona–Nevada Academy of Science.

Earle E. Spamer