As far back as 1902, a national U.S. Forest Service library formed with the transfer of 3,000 books from the Department of Agriculture library. It grew steadily over the years providing a range of services to research customers. Gradually interest grew in expanding service to other Forest Service employees outside of the research branch and to consolidate into fewer locations.
However, over the decades, and because of its evolving decentralized organization structure, large parts of the Forest Service and the public ended up without access to library services.
By 2006, the Forest Service’s National Leadership Team recognized that the entire Agency needed access to these high quality library services. That year they authorized formation of a national program to open access to all seeking information about the Agency’s research and policies.
On October 25, 2006, for the first time in decades, the U.S. Forest Service again had a national library. Now land managers have access through the National Forest Service Library to the best available science and other high quality information.
The first service provided by the national library, the October 2006 issue of the Monthly Alert, generated requests for over 5,000 items in the first few days. Since then, the library has provided hundreds of thousands of documents to Forest Service employees, licensed desktop access to hundreds of electronic resources and helped thousands of land mangers throughout the national forest system get the vital information they need to do their jobs.
The library system is operated by staff in six states and 1 territory with the program administered by a librarian located in Fort Collins, CO and under the oversight of a national board.