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Bird Sound Library Still Going Strong
What most people aren't aware of, however, is that there is another library here that has been in existence for over 20 years.
No, it has no books. There aren't any chairs or desks, either. In fact, the library exists in a closet-sized room.
The Texas Bird Sound Library was created in 1979 by former Sam Houston State professor Ralph Moldenhauer and adjoins the bottom floor Lee Drain Building office of Diane Neudorf, current biology professor and director of the library.
It is modest in appearance with a shelf for bird sound recordings and a cabinet for sound-analyzing gear. It began when one of Moldenhauer's students collected bird sounds for a graduate thesis.
With the thesis completed, Moldenhauer needed a place to safely store the student's recordings. Unable to find anything of the sort in Texas, he started his own and the library was born. The library stayed strong, but was in danger of extinction when Moldenhauer decided to retire in 1998.
No one else on campus showed desire and credentials needed to run the library and there was talk that the library had interest for relocation from Texas A&M University, Ohio State University, Florida State University and Cornell University.
When Neudorf interviewed to be Moldenhauer's replacement on the faculty, she discovered part of the job description would be to keep the library going.
"I sort of inherited it with my job," said Neudorf. "When I interviewed, I found it really interesting that in fact they do have a sound library here. I didn't know about it beforehand, but I was excited."
Neudorf said there are approximately 228 tapes catalogued in the library that represent over 1,000 different types of recordings. They primarily consist of Texas birds, but there are some from Mexico and other areas of the United States as well, Neudorf said.
"He (Moldenhauer) wanted to start the sound library in order to provide a resource for researchers that represent bird sounds from the South," Neudorf said, "because right now the majority of the state bird sound libraries are in the northern U.S.
"He wanted to start a similar situation for the South to provide information for researchers and for education purposes. Sometimes I get calls from Texas Parks and Wildlife or if somebody is doing some kind of display and they want a particular type of call, then I can find that for them."
Most sounds in the library were made by students and Moldenhauer himself, but some are donated from different researchers, Neudorf said.
The sounds in the library can give researchers a great understanding of how birds communicate with each other and what sound characteristics define each type.
"Eventually what we'd like to do is actually digitize all of the sounds and put them all on computer where people can have access to them over the Internet," Neudorf said. "That's going to take a lot of hours, but eventually we would like to do that.
"Then we wouldn't have to necessarily store all of these tapes anymore; we could actually have them all stored on computer. That gives it easier access for people."
Neudorf also hopes that one day the library will expand.
"One thing we're hoping to do is get a large computer room so students can work away and analyze the sound. Right now, this is the appropriate means to do research, but not for doing big classroom study," she said. "I plan to expand it in the future for sure. I am hoping to get a biology student actually involved in helping me do the digitizing as well."
Neudorf said there hasn't been much added to the library since Moldenhauer left, but there are ten tapes, which are mainly from her own research, with a few hundred sounds on them that she would like to get catalogued.
Neudorf said she would also love someday to produce a CD consisting of several different bird sounds from Texas.
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