NBA History of Science Seminar


Melanie Mueller, Director of the AIP Niels Bohr Library & Archives

Melanie Mueller, "Advocacy and archival value in scientific institutions"

Scientific discovery is more than the sum of its published data; the full history of science lies in the noise surrounding and leading up to the point of discovery. What does the word “archive” mean to a scientist (a data bank, published research findings, perhaps numbers used to fuel statistics) and how do archivists communicate the value of their work to the very scientists they seek to document? How do we also convey the value of historical preservation and research to the administrative leadership of scientific research institutions? What are the barriers to documenting modern scientific research, which can include international, cross-disciplinary collaboration? It is vital that we establish stronger relationships and understanding between scientists and archivists, and that we continue to illustrate the enduring value of the scientific record beyond the published sphere. This talk will explore some of the challenges faced by archives of science, and discuss efforts to address these challenges at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives as well as other research and heritage institutions. I will also provide a summary of recent developments resulting from the November 2016 Workshop on Scientific Archives hosted by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, which provided a unique platform for bringing scientists and archivist together for a productive discussion.

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is the home of two physics history programs – the Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Both were founded in the early 1960s and share a common mission to “preserve and make known the history of modern physical sciences.” Melanie Mueller is the Director of the AIP Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Melanie has 12 years of experience as an archivist and administrator with the NBL&A. She has directed major projects including large-scale collection digitization, long-range planning and infrastructure upgrades, collection development, and fundraising.