October 25, 2002

Charles Sibley's Personal Bird Book Collection Now at University Library, Takes Flight With Lecture Series, Art Exhibit in Its Honor

The University Library at Sonoma State University is heralding the gift of an extensive personal collection of bird books by world-renowned ornithologist Charles Sibley, with a lecture series, an art exhibition and displays from Nov. 4 - Jan. 17.

Charles Sibley was considered one of the leading ornithologists of the 20th century, renowned for his pioneering research in such areas as systematics, taxonomy and hybridization.

After a rich academic career of teaching and research, which spanned over five decades, Sibley moved to Santa Rosa in 1993, and became an adjunct faculty member in the biology department at Sonoma State University. He died in Santa Rosa in April, 1998.

The Sibley Collection, donated by Sibley and his family over a period of years from 1993 through 2001, is a unique collection of more than 900 items containing a wealth of information about and images of birds, including a wide array of field guides, volumes of ornithological research, and numerous handsomely illustrated studies of various types of birds.

"The Sibley collection is a rare treasure containing works with a global perspective, historical significance, and artistic value, said Bernie Goldstein, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

"It is wonderful for the library to have this collection. It will be of great use for many people."

The quality of the illustrations and plates in some of the books are comparable to renowned naturalist John J. Audubon?s renderings. The images range from line drawings and sketches to elaborate paintings of skeletons, nests, complete bird bodies, and, in some cases even fauna.

The collection includes a wide range of field guides - some focus on bird-life from around the world while others concentrate of a very specific region.

Many of these guides, which aid birders and researchers in identification while in the field or assist in the study of a bird population of a specific area, are extraordinary and priceless.

While a small portion of the collection is still being processed for circulation, the library anticipates that the entire collection will be completed by June 2003.


The University Library is honoring the gift of this collection with a program of art and lectures called "Taking Flight: Inspiration from Birds."

Beginning in November, many of Sibley?s books will be on display throughout the building and a series of lectures will be held.

Noted local members of the Sonoma County birding community such as Peter Leveque, Mike Parmeter, Betty Burridge, and Diane Hichwa, will lead presentations on a variety of topics including a session with live birds from the Sonoma County Bird Rescue.

In addition, paleontologist Nick Geist will examine the controversial question - did birds evolve from dinosaurs? Biology professor Derek Girman will put Charles Sibley?s research into perspective as he relays information on his own current studies of birds.

The series will end with an "armchair" bird walk exploring the best places in the county for bird watching ? just in time for the annual Sonoma County Christmas Bird Count.

On Nov. 4, the University Library Art Gallery will open an exhibition titled: "Transcending Envy, Awe, and Loathing (The Bird Show)." The exhibition, curated by ceramics professor, Gregory Roberts, will display the works of three contemporary artists, who use birds as a symbol for examining man?s relationship with the natural world.

The exhibition will run through Jan. 17, 2003.

For specific lecture dates and times, or more information, visit the University Library website at http://libweb.sonoma.edu/ or contact Karen Brodsky at (707) 664-4240.

PHOTO CAPTION: Nocturnal Curassow, portrait by Albert Earl Gilbert from "Curassows and Related Birds" by Jean Delacour and Dean Amadon. This book is one of 900 donated by Charles Sibley to the Sonoma State University Library.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057