The Denver Earth Resources Library—a Success Story

Title: The Denver Earth Resources Library—a Success Story
Author: Kay Waller
Publication: The Outcrop, October 2002, p. 1, 6-7

The Denver Earth Resources Library has reached a significant milestone, and is now faced with an exciting new challenge, both due to the purchase of the space it has occupied for over 10 years.

When the Library first opened for business nearly sixteen years ago amid boxes, bags, and bundles of unorganized geological data, logs, books, maps, used furniture, file cabinets, equipment and too many unemployed geologists, many people in our industry thought we were either very crazy or very brave. That was January 2, 1987, and although we’ve not been without setbacks, we’ve never looked back. Our membership is now 250 strong and we enjoy a national reputation and recognition.

When the downturn in the oil industry began gaining momentum in the 1980’s, an old idea about a Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists sponsored library became a renewed idea; this time, there was distinct validation for it. Oil companies were going out of business or downsizing, geologists were retiring or leaving the industry for more lucrative positions elsewhere, and valuable information databases and peripherals were being stored, given away, sold or, worst of all, thrown away or destroyed. A group of concerned and visionary RMAG members realized that the society needed to take some responsibility to preserve valuable geological data that could never be otherwise replaced.

The first location for the Library was Sabine Corporation’s donated vacant office space at 600 17th Street, where it opened January 2, 1987. The Library celebrated its opening that first day with microfiche files of logs, completion card files and production books in place and ready to use. Enough work stations and one faithful Xerox copier were made available for supporting members and “believers.” A very unique repository of valuable, sometimes one-of-a-kind geological data was born.

Unfortunately, the stay at 600 17th Street came to an abrupt end when the Board of Directors was informed that the space the Library occupied had been leased. The library was closed for one month while new space was secured.

During the three years at the next location, 1531 Stout Street, the Library acquired several more significant collections of data, the most important of which was Amoco’s donation of Tenneco’s Rocky Mountain Logs and the shelving. One very serious problem was presented, however, by accepting the files—there was no space. Petroleum Information was approached and they donated 2500 sq. ft. of space to us in their office building and the library faced another move. The Tenneco log collection was set up in PI’s building at 4100 East Dry Creek Road.

A short-term lease goes by very quickly, especially when a more suitable environment needs to be found and a budget of limited funds is available. A very creative ten-year lease was negotiated in 1990 for the Library’s present facilities in the Equitable Building at 730 17th Street. This move involved two parts: moving the library itself and moving the Tenneco logs from Littleton to downtown Denver.

Within six short months, we committed to another 2000 sq. ft., and then in December 1997, we added yet more square feet and signed a new ten-year lease carrying us through January 2008. We were enjoying our stability when the new owner of the Equitable Building, the St. Charles Town Company, LLC, decided to convert all of the spaces to office condominiums.

The Equitable Building is on the National Historic Registry, is designated as a Denver Historic Landmark, and is part of the Downtown Historic District. The building was built in the early 1890’s and features beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows. Marble from Marble, Colorado, and marble imported from Italy were used to finish the main lobby and the lower-level lobby where the Library is located. It is an extraordinary building and that is why we have become a part of it, purchasing our space on July 24, 2002.

The Denver Earth Resources Library, a non-profit 501(c)(3) Colorado Corporation established in 1986, is committed to collecting, organizing, preserving and disseminating geological and earth science data. Our primary role is to serve the scientific professionals in the petroleum industry, but our client base includes college and university students and professors, state and federal agencies, and the general public. Our geographic areas of coverage include the entire Rocky Mountain Region, Mid-Continent States, and California/West Coast/Alaska. Secondary Areas include the Illinois Basin and Texas. We have limited coverage for the rest of the continental United States and feature some international publications.

Databases include logs, well data, geologic reports, lithologic logs, oil and gas production statistics, mud logs, maps, historical scout tickets, completion cards, society-published guidebooks, AAPG Bulletins, USGS Bulletins, Oil and Gas Journals and many other periodicals, text and reference books, one-of-a-kind collections (some of which are out of print), and so much more. The data are in hard-copy, fiche-film formats, digital or on-line, and are updated through subscriptions with various data providers. The Library is designed to serve all clients in-house, but we also provide research services for out-of-town or out-of-state members.

The Library staff consists of two full-time and two part-time people who collectively have over 100 years experience in the petroleum industry, and our seven-member Board of Directors, who are elected by the membership and serve two-year terms.

Lead story bw
The DERL Capital Campaign Committee celebrates the recent purchase of its space. From left to right, Walter Arbuckle, George Hampton, Bob Sellars, Elliott Riggs, Kay Waller, Cliff Clark, and Dudley Bolyard raise a toast.

The Denver Earth Resources Library is a success story. In the midst of an industry that has been struggling to survive, the Library thrives. It has had a significant impact on the lives of petroleum industry professionals who wanted to continue working in the oil business and wanted to stay in Denver. For many, this Library has meant professional survival, and we think the investment in our space in the Equitable Building is an investment in our future.

The dedication of the original RMAG committee, the Founding and Charter Members, the volunteers, the Board of Directors, and the DERL staff have all contributed to the success of this Library. The Annual Fund Drive contributors, the Gibbet Hill Foundation, the RMAG Foundation and the Arthur and Helen K. Johnson Foundation can collectively be congratulated and thanked for playing such an important part in this endeavor.

The Library has become a professional and personal family for many involved. Everyone has shared the pain of dry holes and the pride of a producer. Some very precious people have been lost and they will be missed and remembered. We have shared “war stories,” laughed at ourselves and with others, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, seen babies born and children grow, and we have even cried together. We have watched out for one another.

Because of this “family,” we can claim success today and we can look forward to ensuring the future of this Library. We are now conducting a $900,000 Capital Campaign in an effort to retire our mortgage early and to make capital improvements such as painting, putting in new carpet, purchasing additional library shelving for new books and publications and acquiring new chairs and other needed furniture to improve work station comfort for our clients. We are inviting individuals, companies and foundations to participate in this exciting five-part program. For more information, contact the Library at (303) 825-5614.

This Library has been conservatively managed for sixteen years and has served its members and users in an efficient, friendly and effective manner. Our goal and purpose for this Capital Campaign is to make certain that this center remains the vital and dynamic library envisioned by the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists in 1986. This ambitious campaign is yet another milestone in the commitment made by all people involved.