Browsing the Stacks at the Lunar Library

Unlike manyin my generation, I've never been particularly enamored of Mars. I don’tdislike it, but my interest has long been our Moon, such a tantalizingly closedestination right there in the sky. Looking for a niche in the space fieldafter graduate school, I decided to try to become the most knowledgeable personof my generation with regards to the Moon. It seemed the perfect Gen. Xslacker goal - I'm part of a small demographic, studying a relatively esoteric(for my generation) topic. How hard could it be?

Well, very,as it turns out that there's a whole lot of knowledge regarding our Moon. Itend to lump it into pre- and post-Apollo. That which came before is much morecultural in nature, the gathered stories of untold generations of humanityfascinated by that constant ever-changing beacon in the sky. There's anincreasing sophistication in that knowledge post-Renaissance as our toolsstarted getting better and better, but even right before Apollo there werestill many uncertainties reflected in many stories of the time.

Post-Apollocomes a deluge of information. There is an enormous amount of literatureassociated with the Apolloprogram itself, but slowly the data gathered by that program and others hasbeen pieced together in useful ways, and we've been able to considerablyadvance our conception of what we can do on the Moon and how we can do it.

The processof researching all of this led to a slow amassment of more and more books andpapers about all different aspects of our Moon. Eventually it grew to a sizewhere it can properly be considered a library of our Moon. At this point Ipublished a bibliographyon the internet to help guide others who might be interested in studying thingsLunar. This was, appropriately, at the Return to the Moon (later Space Arena)bulletin board sponsored by the SpaceFrontier Foundation.

PeriodicallyI would update it, operating under the principle that it would only includetitles of which I had a physical copy, but after the Return to the Moon Boardwas closed I needed a new host. Hobbyspace.com,a wonderful resource, was kind enough to sharethe server space, and added the important feature of hypertexting thesections from the initial listing. It was at this time that the Lunar Libraryproved its merit, as I relied heavily upon it during my contribution to theMoon chapter of "Kidsto Space", which was a fascinating and wonderful experience, seeingall those fascinating questions from the kids and then ensuring I had the bestpossible answer by consulting the stacks.

Eventually,the guys at ‘Out of the Cradle’,from the famous Tsiolkovsky quote "The Earth is the cradle of mankind, butone cannot stay in the cradle forever", talked me into doing a new versionat their blog site. They cleaned out a back corner of the server and I set upshop. How do you put a bibliography on a blog? One creates a “biblioblography”.

The main pageconsists of a roll-up of entries in all the subsections. This runs to 33 longweb pages, consisting of hundreds of titles on the Moon and High Frontier. Each link carries, where available, an Amazon link, a link to the Publisher'swebsite for that title, On-line text where I could find it, and Reviews doneboth at the website and elsewhere, as well as interviews at The Space Show. In essence I web-ifiedeach bibliographic file card to take advantage of the hyperlink nature of theinternet to pool knowledge in a way that cannot be done in print form alone.

The menu onthe left of the page allows one to quickly narrow the listings to a particulararea of interest, be it Moonbases,Selenography(the mapping of the Moon), or Selenology(the mineral and other natural resources of the Moon, such as vacuum). Thereare over 150 Moon-based science-fiction works in the MoonFiction section, and over 75 have been reviewed in the blog’s forums with cross-linking.

The nextmajor section is HighFrontier, which deals with the varied aspects of becoming a space-faring,and not just space-visiting, civilization. This is again divided into areas ofparticular interest, from Biologicsto Facilities/Infrastructureto Navigationand EML-1.

Mostimportantly, there is a section dedicated to Youthtitles, though the target audience is teachers and educators. Each of the Moonand High Frontier is divided into fact and fiction, although sometimes a workis sufficiently pedantic despite being fiction to be included in the factsection. "Maxgoes to the Moon" is a good example, and I figure that if the National Science Teachers' Association likes itthen it's probably okay in the fact section.

My hope isthat more people who have an interest in the Moon will be able to find theresources they need to answer their questions. Teachers can find many usefultools, such as analogue rocks, scale marbles, slide sets, and some amazingon-line links, such as "HumanPhysiology in Space" for secondary schools which reproduces online agreat text reference published a number of years ago, and which is stillavailable for order. There are titles in Spanish and French, but you have tohunt for them as I do not yet have enough of each for their own separatesections. Inflatable Moon globes, a 3-D puzzle, games,and more. If you look far enough in each section you’ll also find web-onlyresources.

So enjoyyour visit to the Lunar Library,and I hope you find something of interest.

KenMurphy is a Masters graduate of International Space University, and currentlyserves as vice-president of the North Texas chapter of NSS, and as co-chair ofthe NSS’s 2007 International Space Development Conference over the Memorial DayWeekend in Dallas.

NOTE: The views of this article are the author's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.

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