Stanford University Libraries has acquired the collection of books, papers and artifacts of the late Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, author of more than 20 books.
Gould spent his career at Harvard but decided before his death in 2002 that his work should go to a library that that made a commitment to digitize and cross-link all of his work, according to Rhonda Shearer, Gould's widow. Stanford was the only institution that made that commitment, she said.
"This is something that Steve wanted," Shearer said. "Even though he called himself a Luddite and really had anxiety about technology, he saw that for ideas to compete, they really had to be on the Internet."
The Gould collection is immense, Stanford library officials say.
Gould owned about 1,500 rare, antiquarian books, some dating to the 1400s, and his library of contemporary books includes about 8,000 volumes. His collection of papers hasn't been counted but it is estimated that it will stretch more than 500 linear feet.
In addition to writing more than 20 books, many of them best-sellers, Gould also wrote 300 consecutive essays for Natural History, the monthly magazine of the American Museum of Natural History.
"It's a great acquisition," University Librarian Michael Keller said. "Steve Gould was a tremendous popularizer of science and he was, more importantly, a deep scientist. He had a big, broad mind, working on lots of different interesting problems."
The library's plan is to digitize Gould's articles as well as the sources he drew on, and cross-link the sources with his own writing. The goal will be make all of Gould's papers freely available over the Internet to anyone who wants to see them.
"We see (this project) as a kind of model of what could be done with the emanations of really brilliant scientists, and we certainly have that same ambition to work on many of Stanford's own leading thinkers in the sciences and across all the disciplines," Keller said.