This Pipeline Pumps Books and Science

AAPG’s Publication Pipeline Committee (PPC), a group that seeks to share geologic knowledge, continues to get books and other information into the hands of university students around the world.

PPC volunteers, operating under a structure first organized years ago by Martin Cassidy, focus on supplying textbooks and other published material to help bolster geoscience education.

Call it a case of turning good intentions into valuable results.

And, call it necessary.

There are many regions in the world where university students may not have libraries, computers, online access and the like. While they may aspire to be geoscientists, they’re hindered by a lack of access to information that students elsewhere take for granted – in fact, a basic textbook often can be a luxury.

The PPC members are doing their part to remedy this situation.

The assistance effort begins with the receipt of donated materials and continues until these materials reach the hands of students who may be halfway around the world. It’s a somewhat daunting task, particularly for a group of volunteers.

The initial step is to inventory and sort all of the donated material.

Image Caption

Geoscientists helping geoscientists: Jan Heagy, Chuck Caughey and Martin Cassidy prepare a Publications Pipeline shipment to India. Photo courtesy of Rick Wall

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AAPG’s Publication Pipeline Committee (PPC), a group that seeks to share geologic knowledge, continues to get books and other information into the hands of university students around the world.

PPC volunteers, operating under a structure first organized years ago by Martin Cassidy, focus on supplying textbooks and other published material to help bolster geoscience education.

Call it a case of turning good intentions into valuable results.

And, call it necessary.

There are many regions in the world where university students may not have libraries, computers, online access and the like. While they may aspire to be geoscientists, they’re hindered by a lack of access to information that students elsewhere take for granted – in fact, a basic textbook often can be a luxury.

The PPC members are doing their part to remedy this situation.

The assistance effort begins with the receipt of donated materials and continues until these materials reach the hands of students who may be halfway around the world. It’s a somewhat daunting task, particularly for a group of volunteers.

The initial step is to inventory and sort all of the donated material.

“We do it by pallet,” said PPC chairman Gerrit Wind, of Houston. “These boxes contain a series of memoirs, journals, books, and we make a list and put them on a pallet that has maybe two or three collections.

“If BULLETINs or memoirs are part of a pallet, we don’t go through and isolate or take out geophysical or AAPG items or only recent editions of textbooks,” he noted. “It’s too labor intensive.”

But it’s not all work.

“Sometimes when sorting we tend to stop and read, which indicates the quality of the books,” said PPC member Chuck Caughey, also of Houston. “There’s a tendency to say ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this book in a long time.’”

Overcoming Difficulties

Once the sorting effort concludes, the real challenge begins.

“The hard part of making a donation is the logistical challenge,” said Rick Wall, another Houston-based PPC member. “This is all volunteer, and we’re sending these usually to the other side of the world – sending a shipment to, say, Afghanistan is a logistical nightmare.”

Caughey acknowledged the difficulty.

“The real nightmare scenario would be to have a couple of pallets of books sitting on the dock in the rain while they’re charging you storage on them because you’re not there, you don’t know the import requirements, what the fees are,” he said. “We have to make sure that’s all in place before we send anything – it takes a lot of effort to make this work.”

Having in-country help in place is a big plus.

“The books have to go through customs, be picked up and delivered,” Wall noted, “and we couldn’t do it without the help of AAPG members in-country. “We also depend on sister organizations as partners, such as the Nigeria Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) – we’ve made several donations to Nigeria, and NAPE was wonderful.

“In Papua New Guinea, we couldn’t have done it without the help of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia,” Wall added, “as well as AAPG members in the Asia Pacific region.”

Wall noted they also rely on AAPG’s Visiting Geoscientist Program as well as the student chapters at the receiving universities, which is a natural partnership.

Friends With Money

This is an expensive undertaking, and the not-for-profit committee depends heavily on sponsors for assistance – especially for the pricey shipping process.

“Our work would not be possible without the generous support of corporate partners like Anadarko, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, EnCana, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Samson, Shell and even the U.S. Geological Survey,” Wall noted.

In fact, the USGS was the principal underwriter for two shipments to Afghanistan.

The PPC is challenged to keep up the pace of shipments versus incoming publications, according to Wall. He noted they currently have many more books coming in than they’re moving out.

You can help.

“We always need more corporate partners and committee members,” Wall said.

He emphasized the critical need to:

  • Identify universities that need books.
  • Identify AAPG members close to these universities who can become involved.

To date, the PPC volunteers are responsible for shipping nearly 60 tons of material overseas.

“We’re really proud of that,” Wall said.  “But what we’re really all about is the process of geoscientists helping geoscientists – that’s our tagline, and we truly believe in it.

“It’s not the amount of books, he said. “It’s the fact that we’re sending books, that we can do this and make this happen.

“That’s what all of us on the committee get our buzz from.”  

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