AAPG’s Publications Pipeline program does more than funnel books and publications to understocked and underserved universities and libraries.
It pumps a lot of good will along the way, explained Jon Blickwede, AAPG member, senior advising geologist for Statoil and former chair of the AAPG Publications Pipeline Committee.
The committee was launched in 2000 with the aim of distributing geoscience and engineering books and publications to universities around the world that lacked those resources.
Blickwede said committee founders Mark Cassidy and Rick Wall of Amoco began the project, knowing companies, individuals and institutions had a number of publications they needed to clear out, but didn’t want to simply throw away.
Most of the material consists of donations from retired and deceased geoscientists and downsized company libraries, he said.
The works are gathered in Houston, the committee’s base of operations, then sorted, cataloged and parked. Once a need is identified, arrangements are made to ship them, often via companies with interests in those countries.
The effort began slowly, but has grown steadily over the years. Blickwede said the PP took 13 years to pass the 100-ton milestone. But in only two years since, the program already is fast approaching 200 tons. Late last year, the Publications Pipeline Committee held a gathering in Houston celebrating 161 tons of donated publications.
Since its inception, the pipeline has delivered publications to about 60 universities in at least 15 countries on every continent except Antarctica, Blickwede said.
In another milestone, the PP made its largest single shipment last year to universities in Myanmar.
The AAPG Asia Pacific team was able to secure sponsorship for the logistics required with the generous support of Chevron, Statoil and Schlumberger, according to Peter Grant, president of AAPG’s Asia Pacific Region.
Grant said the initiative began at the first AAPG conference in Yangon in August 2014, and the books were formally presented during the second AAPG/EAGE/MGS Myanmar Oil and Gas Conference on Nov. 18, 2015, Grant said.
Some 33,000 kilos of books on 60 pallets had been delivered to Yangon University prior to the official presentation, and were to be distributed to the various participating universities in the system.
Blickwede, who championed the shipment for the PP, said the collection would fill a shelf more than a kilometer long and was by far the group’s single-largest delivery.
“It was very pleasing to see many students attend and to see how they had so much interest in the event and the books,” Grant said.
“The volume of books was very impressive and were a combination of old and new textbooks from around the world, field and case studies, memoirs and journals,” he said. “All seemed to be of high quality.”
The significant task ahead is for the university to catalogue the books and then make them available for students and the other participating universities. We wish them well in this huge project,” Grant added.
Blickwede called the PP efforts a “definite win-win,” providing needed resources for students and “a good public relations effect for AAPG and the companies that arrange to pay for the shipments. Often they have operations in the receiving countries and the deliveries can fill some community support obligations they may have.”
Another large shipment is championed by committee volunteer Elizabeth Desser to Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Blickwede said.
He said the shipment probably would fill 20 pallets and be the group’s second-largest delivery to date.
“Elizabeth spent time in the Peace Corps in east Africa and has been working through those contacts to contact universities there,” he said.
While, like many countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo “is not the easiest, security-wise,” Desser found a shipper agreeable to making the deliveries, Blickwede said.
The PP’s core work group meets for a monthly work session in Houston, mapping plans and doing the physical work of inventorying, packing, loading and labeling donated publications.
Both Blickwede and Desser said the sessions are fun and, Desser noted, “a great upper body workout.”
The group has about 12 core workers. Blickwede said some newer volunteers bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the program.
“While many of us take for granted online access and digital media, those means are not easily accessible in many countries,” Blickwede added. “They still treasure old-fashioned books and journals.”
And, he explained, the Publications Pipeline program itself will continue to be treasured for years to come.
“It’s a way to pay it forward to a new generation of geoscientists,” Blickwede said. “AAPG fosters new up-and-coming petroleum geologists around the world and helps establish itself as an international entity, growing the profession and the membership.”