Charles H. Smith
Professor and Science Librarian, Department of Library Public Services, Western Kentucky University

photo of Charles H. Smith, Science Librarian at Western Kentucky University
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Contact Information:

mail:  University Libraries, 1906 College Heights Blvd., Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101

office:  Room 102, Helm Library
phone:  (270) 745-6079
fax:  (270) 745-2275

Education  ••  Services Offered as Science Librarian  ••  Research and Personal Interests  ••  Professional Affiliations
Selected Print Publications  ••  Selected Honors and Grants  ••  Most Unusual Achievement  ••  Web Materials by Charles Smith

  • B.A. (1972), Geology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • M.A. (1980), Geography, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
  • Ph.D. (1984), Geography (Emphasis: Biogeography; Minor: History & Philosophy of Science), University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
  • M.L.S. (1995), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Services Offered as Science Librarian  

There are two science librarians in University Libraries; each has faculty status and offers a variety of services within the WKU community. Carol Watwood, the Health Sciences Librarian, provides departmental liaison and reference contacts for the health sciences departments. My designation is 'Science Librarian,' and in this capacity I serve as the library liaison and select library materials for the following programs: Agriculture, Biology, Chemistry, Geography & Geology, Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy, Engineering, and Architectural & Manufacturing Sciences. I also oversee the Maps & Atlases materials purchasing account. I have held the position since 1 March 1995. Bryan Carson is now the liaison for Computer Science; Rosemary Meszaros is the liaison for both offspring of the old Psychology Department (that is, including the division that is now part of Ogden College).

For faculty (and staff), graduate students, and undergraduate majors in these departments I perform the following special, individualized, services (in addition, that is, to the 'regular' reference services that I or any of the other librarians might supply for science- or nonscience-oriented students, staff or faculty):

  • helping you locate materials in the collections
  • helping you prepare interlibrary loan requests, including deciphering abbreviations and verifying citations
  • spending as much as an hour or so at a time to individually go over library resources relevant to your particular interests, including pertinent reference works, indexes/abstracts, and electronic format databases
  • assisting students in choosing a subject on which to do a paper (that is, I can suggest ways to go about coming up with a subject--for specific suggestions, students should confer with their course professor)
  • teaching the use of particular print reference sources or electronic databases
  • for teachers, giving class-level ('research instruction') presentations on library resources or other subjects
  • maintaining the electronically-available departmental research guides for my assigned departments
  • for teachers, preparing a succinct handout of reference and index/abstract materials we own that pertain to a particular course subject (or subject in general)
  • assisting in researching sources for particular projects

Research and Personal Interests  

My own research has primarily involved bibliography and bibliometrics, collection development, history and philosophy of science (especially the nineteenth century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace), biogeography and biodiversity, evolutionary theory, music history, and general systems theory. I also have long-standing interests in baseball and the paranormal. My favorite foods include the basics: good coffee, orange juice, and bread. The greatest influences on my life have come from my parents and, in no particular order, Lou Gehrig, Bert Jansch, Carl Nielsen, Benedict de Spinoza, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Alfred Russel Wallace. I have also recently become an Annie Oakley fan--read up on her; you'll be impressed!

Current Professional Affiliations 

I am currently a member of the International Biogeography Society, The Linnean Society of London, The Society for the History of Natural History, The Scientific and Medical Network, the Kentucky Library Association, and the American Society for Engineering Education. I sit on the Editorial Board of the journal Science & Technology Libraries.

Selected Print Publications 

Selected Highlights, Honors and Grants at WKU  

  • share with the editors and other contributors to the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers the biennial 2017 Donald E. Osterbrock Book Prize for Historical Astronomy
  • recipient of WKU QTag grants, 2015/16 and 2016/17
  • included in the 2016 (70th) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • included in the 2016-2017 (12th) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in Science and Engineering
  • recipient of the 2015 University Libraries WKU Award for Outstanding Research/Creativity (March 2015)
  • included in the 2015 (69th) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • invited to give a paper, all expenses covered, at a meeting in Sarawak in November 2013 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace (did not attend, but prepared a taped lecture shown at the meeting; this will appear in the conference proceedings)
  • delivered an invited paper, all expenses covered, at an American Museum of Natural History conference in November 2013 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace
  • recipient of $29960. Templeton Foundation grant to improve access to Alfred Russel Wallace resources (September 2013 to May 2016)
  • accepted an invitation to prepare a featured essay commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace for a special issue of the journal Theory in Biosciences, published in the November 2013 issue
  • delivered an invited paper, all expenses covered, at a Royal Society of London Discussion Meeting in October 2013 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace
  • recipient of a 2013 President's Call to Service Award, national recognition for more than six thousand hours of lifetime volunteer service (April 2013)
  • delivered an invited ninety-minute paper, all expenses covered, at a conference at UNAM in Mexico City commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace (8 March 2013)
  • invited to prepare a featured essay commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace for a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Biogeography (invitation October 2012)
  • included in the 2011-2012 11th edition of Marquis' Who's Who in Science and Engineering
  • $6350. WKU RCAP grant-funded research trip to London to research Alfred Russel Wallace sources (August-September 2011)
  • included in the 2011 (65th) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • finalist for a Distinguished Professorship at WKU (informed December 2010)
  • delivered an invited ninety-minute paper, all expenses covered, at the annual meeting of the Brazilian Society for the History and Philosophy of Biology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (10 August 2010)
  • delivered an invited two-hour colloquium lecture, all expenses covered, on Wallace's model of natural selection at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (8 August 2010)
  • recipient of the 2010 University Libraries/Information Technologies WKU Award for Outstanding Research/Creativity (March 2010)
  • my book Natural Selection and Beyond... released as a paperback edition, March 2010
  • featured (a second time) in the Spring 2010 issue of WKU's The Western Scholar
  • delivered an invited two-hour talk, all expenses covered, at a four-day Darwinism conference at UNISINOS, near Porto Alegre in Brazil (10 September 2009)
  • my website The Alfred Russel Wallace Page included as a 'Best of Free Reference 2008' selection by Library Journal (15 April 2009)
  • am subject of the monthly featured cover story in the local news and arts publication The Amplifier (March 2009)
  • included in the 2009 (63rd) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • in February 2009 invited to go on television to take part in a segment on Darwin and Wallace on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," but the producers ultimately decide not to go through with the spot
  • recipient of the 2008 Margie Helm Faculty Award for Outstanding Performance, University Libraries (December 2008)
  • delivered an invited talk, all expenses covered, at the Linnean Society in London at a conference celebrating the double occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first presentation of the theory of natural selection in 1858, and the publication of my Oxford University Press book Natural Selection and Beyond: The Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace the same month (22 November 2008)
  • elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (9 October 2008)
  • interviewed by the journal The Scientist and the Communications Office at Princeton University for usable quotations regarding the work of Princeton scientists Raj Chakrabarti and Herschel Rabitz on protein evolution (September 2008)
  • asked to contribute a 1200-word "sidebar" essay for one of the chapters of the upcoming eighth edition of a popular biogeography textbook (September 2008)
  • included in the 2008 (62nd) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • on 30 June 2008 invited to do an eight-minute interview segment on NPR's "Morning Edition" (concerning the 150th anniversary of the first presentation of the theory of natural selection in 1858), but the spot ultimately goes to someone else (I miss out by five minutes when I see the invitation message a bit too late to respond in time!)
  • The Wikipedia people create a "Charles H. Smith" page on their service (May 2007)
  • included in the 2007 (61st) edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America
  • my website The 111 Greatest Acts of the Anglo-American Folk Music Tradition included as a 'Best Websites of 2006' selection by Library Journal, May 2007
  • submit successful Priority Initiative Award application for the Dept. of Library Public Services (Fall 2006)
  • placed a first-author article in Nature (7 September 2006)
  • invited keynote speaker at the second biennial meeting of the International Biogeography Society (held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, January 4-8, 2005)
  • advanced to Professor (30 April 2004)
  • recipient of a Sci/Tech Web Award 2003 (for one of the five best history or biography of sci/tech-related websites of the year) for my website The Alfred Russel Wallace Page
  • recipient of the Golden Web Award for my websites The Alfred Russel Wallace Page and The Classical Music Navigator in 2001, and my websites Early Classics in Biogeography, Distribution and Diversity Studies: To 1950 and Nineteenth Century Exploration of Australia in 2002
  • featured in the second issue of WKU's The Western Scholar, Spring 2001
  • honored by University Libraries for work in science bibliography with reception, Spring 2001
  • recipient of the 2001 Oberly Award (for best bibliography published in the agricultural or natural sciences, 1999-2001) for my book Biodiversity Studies: A Bibliographic Review; this work also included in Library Journal's 'Best Reference Sources 2000' list
  • advanced to Associate Professor with tenure (19 May 2000)
  • recipient of the 1999 University Libraries/Information Technologies WKU Outstanding Research/Creativity Award (24 March 1999)
  • WKU Faculty Scholarship Grants: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
  • began working at WKU (as "Science Librarian") (1 March 1995)

Most Unusual Achievement 

On an otherwise ordinary day in the spring of 1966, while pitching in a junior varsity high school baseball game, I picked off two runners in a row who had reached first base on consecutive at-bats. Neither was caught in the act of a steal attempt, mind you--they just weren't able to beat the tag, returning to first. And I am right-handed, not left-handed: considering that, this must be almost as rare a feat as taking part in an unassisted triple play!

Web Materials Created by Charles Smith

I have written or compiled and maintain the following materials, available on the World Wide Web:

    WKU Libraries-Oriented Web Materials:

     Alfred Russel Wallace-Related Materials: 

     Natural History and History-Related Databases:

     Music-Related Materials: 
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