The northeast monsoon brings rainfall to Chennai in October-November. However, 2015 witnessed excess rainfall and the city was “surprised”. Rains have not been good enough in Tamil Nadu in the past. However, now and then it rains in excess and many parts of the state suffers due to unplanned development. Buildings have come up in dry lake beds (also when streams were dry). Obviously, this leads to inundation.
Several small rivers (large streams) in Chennai started to carry water. This in turn wreaked havoc along its path. Here is a waterway – probably a small stream that has been cemented to just carry water. However, parts of the embankment have not been strong enough. Possibly, water from the Chembarambakkam Lake has been released. Or this could be water from another state…
The runoff was not much – just about 2-3 feet but because the entire culvert is paved, water gains speed. Notice the small local streams serving the main stream. The culvert is reddish with sediments.
Notice the left bank – that has given away to the force of water and rain.
Not exactly a “geoscience” post but something related and important. Yes, this is about Geology books.
Let me clarify what I mean when I say “books on Geology”. I primarily refer to the text books used at University level and beyond. There are many “general” books on Geology with glossy finish and colorful pictures. These are for kids and people who have no knowledge of Geology. For example, books on Dinosaurs appeal to many. Fiction based on Geology – novels to be precise – is rare and the ones that come to mind are Michael Crichton’s Lost World and the lesser known Sarah Andrews’ novels where the setting often “includes geology”.
So back to our topic: Geology text books in Chennai libraries.
For some reason, the text books we want on Geology never seem to be available. In this day of Internet, Kindle, Mobile devices, and digital books, physical books still have a charm. Many text books are available online and you can download them instantly. However, like print books, digital books are just another medium and cannot be a substitute for quality content. Although, new text books are available on the different geoscience subjects, not every new book can replace the existing books that were the pioneers. Most universities still recommend the “old” text books as they are good for learning the concepts. Indeed, very similar content is available in newer books on the same subject, but the older books don’t often have a good substitute.
While some new books are better than the old books for many reasons, the older books are still the best. Colleges must have a basic mandatory syllabus or curriculum and recommend courses for that. This means teaching the basics – and these are still available in the books printed 40 or 60 or even 80 years ago.
However, these “classic” (or old) texts are not easily available. Even on Amazon, probably the best website for buying books, many old books are not available. If you purchase these old books (second-hand) from other sellers, often importing is not easy.
Also many of these books are expensive. The only way to access them is through libraries.
In Chennai quiet a few libraries have Geology text books. Yet, not all have all the books. Here is a list of libraries available for students and staff:
- Department Collections – these are only accessible to staff of the department. These have the best collection of books ever. But is internal. The geology departments of Madras University, IIT, Presidency College, and Anna University are examples.
- Madras University Library (Chepauk) – Most Geology books (and other books) are badly maintained and now are available for reference.
- Madras University AC Tech Campus Library – available to students and staff. Collection is OK but some books are not available.
- Anna University Library – available to students and staff. Collection is very good and has books on mining, water, and geoengineering but some books are not available.
Similarly, other geoscience departments provide access to books for students and staff.
So how do others who are neither students or staff of Universities refer to Geology text books? Through government organizations and public libraries. Here is a list of such libraries in government organizations:
- Geological Survey of India (GSI), Chennai Reference – This is quiet an advanced collection of maps, papers, and journals. Text books are less but this is not a typical library. Is more for researchers and people who work in the geology domain.
- Secretariat Library, Fort St. George – Had a small collection of books on Geology. For staff.
Here is a list of public libraries and libraries of foreign consulates:
- Connemara Public Library – used to have a fine collection, but most books are gone. Either lost or have been worn beyond repair. Poorly maintained. Still okay with a reference and lending collection.
- The Directorate of Public Libraries. A no-cost library and has a few books on Geology.
- The American Library of the US Consulate General. Very few books on geology.
Overall the two best libraries for Geology Text Books are:
- The British Council Library: professional, neat, and modern. Many books on Geology, Hydrogeology, Sedimentology, and Petrology. You can become a member, borrow and read. Online access to journals is useful. Probably the best in India in terms of management and services – the drawbacks being that only text books by British authors are stocked and the cost of membership could be high for students.
- The Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram. Has a mouth-watering collection of Geology books! Is quiet modern but has no membership options. Could be much more professional with a better reception and enquiry facility. If this library can be run like the British Council Library, it could be the world’s best. The library has the following:
- A whole geology section with racks dedicated to Geomorphology, Tectonics, Hydrogeology, Geophysics, crystallography, Petroleum geology, and so on
- The engineering section has books on Mining, Groundwater, and Environmental Science
- A separate section for paleontology!
I found some new books such as Groundwater Geoscience by Fitts, Introduction to Hydrogelogy by Nonner – very colorful and illustrated to make reading a pleasure. There are books on Groundwater Modeling as well (by Nevin K)! Even the ESRI GIS book on Arc GIS for Groundwater! Apart from this – Shelly’s Petroleum geology and Seibold’s Sea Floor are available. Disappointed at not finding Submarine Geology by Shepard or Mining Geology by Arogyaswamy or Bowen’s Igneous Petrology. These are the classic old books.
Pictures are of the Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram.