Bechtel Herpetology Gift Collection & Display

5:15 pm, Thursday, April 21, 2011 - Odum Library Reception Honoring the Bechtels

Odum Library is hosting a special reception at 5:15 pm on Thursday, April 21, 2011, to recognize the generosity of Dr. H. Bernard and Elizabeth R. (Bette) Bechtel in donating an outstanding herpetology collection to the library.  The reception will take place on the 1st floor lobby area housing the display cases featuring the Bechtel gift titles along with specimens of snakes, frogs, and turtles, on temporary loan from the Biology department.   Dr. Bechtel was a Valdosta practicing dermatologist who developed a passion for studying reptiles and particularly reptile skin as related to human skin conditions. Mrs. Elizabeth R. Bechtel is a retired Biology instructor who has the distinction as serving as the first Chair of the campus Recycling Committee and has more recently served as an honorary member of the VSU Foundation Board.  Some of the displayed herpetology specimens were collected by the Bechtels and given to the Biology department, when Mrs. Bechtel was on staff at the college.

In early December, 2009, the library received the extensive personal herpetology book collection that had been acquired by Dr. Bechtel through the years in pursuit of his studies.  A GALILEO Medline Author Search on "Bechtel HB"  results in three citations. The first citation, "Inherited color defects. Comparison between humans and snakes," International Journal Of Dermatology 30.4 (1991): 243-246, . is available in full text. 

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The herpetology collection has been identified in the GIL-Find@VSU Odum Library catalog with the tag, "Bechtel gift".   Tags are a feature of GIL-Find@VSU that encourage library users to add their own language to a library record to describe an item. You must log-in with your VSU ID number, last name and PIN to enter tags.

Adding tags allows you to incorporate new descriptors that make sense to you. When you find an item in the GIL-Find catalog that has a tag, you can click on the tag to find other items that have been tagged with the same word. The more users tag, the more connected items in the library catalog will be, just like the library's use of   the "Bechtel gift" tag.

The snakes of Iran

Over 200 books about reptiles and amphibians have been added to the library collection.  Many of those books are field guides for states like for nearby Florida, and further away Wisconsin, and Hawaii.  Many other countries are represented like AustraliaChinaRhodesia, and Iran in this gift collection. Over 75 of the books focus on amphibians, similar to the  Handbook of common New Guinea frogs and the Handbook of salamanders. Interested in Turtles of the United Statesor  The behavioral ecology of the Komodo monitor, you can find this and much more.

Life, love, and reptiles bookWhile the majority of books are in EnglishGermanRussianChineseFrench and Portuguese are also represented. Because the Bechtels kept some reptiles and amphibians in captivity, the gift collection includes a group of husbandrybooks.   One of the husbandry books, Ball pythons: the history, natural history, care and breeding, is only held by five other libraries world-wide. If autobiographies appeal to you, you might want to read Life, love, and reptiles; an autobiography of Sherman A. Minton, a medical doctor who authored eight of the books in this collection. 

The library is grateful for this donated collection of scholarship as focused on herpetology as it supplements what has previously been acquired through the years.   Materials like Calls of the wild vocalizations of Georgia's frogs, a sound recording, produced by the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that is found in Odum Library’s Government Documents collection.    Also on display are a Toad puppet and Collard Lizard study print, both from the Instructional Materials Collection (IMC). These are examples of the curricular resources available in the library selected for students preparing to be teachers.   A library catalog search on the phrase ‘sound recording’ AND the keywords of ‘lizard OR snake OR frog OR toad’retrieves over 50 titles, primarily jazz music, like “Tree frog” by Count Basie in the Fine Arts Materials Collection (FAMC) . Frog in the Meadow is also retrieved which is on display.

If you are interested in reading any of the books that are in the display case or listening to the sound recordings, that is possible by placing a request in the GIL Classic Catalog.