Volume from the Bill Mixon cave collection.

Area Spelunker Donates Cave Collection

Caves and karst (eroded limestone terrains) are tied to the whole of human history – as shelters, as sources of water, as places of mystery and worship, and as research topics in geology, biology, hydrology and engineering. The Walter Geology Library as a respected research library in earth sciences, has a strong collection in caves and karst research, particularly since Central Texas has many caves and karst features, and the region has long hosted an avid caving community.

Volume from the Bill Mixon cave collection.
Volume from the Bill Mixon cave collection.

One member of that local caving community, Bill Mixon — former book review editor for the National Speleological Society and friend of the Walter Library — recently donated his unique collection of over 1000 books and more than 1000 periodical issues related to cave and karst research, literature, and culture. Remarkably, this entire collection is all material new to the UT Libraries, significantly broadening and enhancing our existing collections.

The collection is largely international in scope, and among the items included, almost 1/3 of the books are not only new to UT, but not held otherwise in any US libraries, or not held anywhere at all. Another 20+% of the materials are held in fewer than 5 North American collections.

The literature of caving is largely produced by specialists for specialists, and much of it is only shared among informal networks, or is only available locally or regionally — not the kind of stuff you can buy on Amazon. For this reason, this gift of personally-curated material from around the world is a tremendous asset, representing years of effort on the part of the donor to amass such a significant cross section of the world’s cave publications.

We are grateful for the gift, as it adds significantly to our existing strengths, and will give future researchers the benefit of having guides, exploration reports, and research on most of the world’s major cave and karst systems all in one place.

Why Caves Matter. 

Caves are:

  • Hidden time machines and an historical record of previous natural and human activity
  • Essential filtration tools and sources for water
  • Home to unique critters and life forms, including bats, spiders, microbes
  • Great sources of fossils of all kinds
  • Key to the study of climate
  • Important areas of earth science research
  • Home to early man, later man, hiding man, man at war
  • Repositories of early human art
  • Important risk factors in construction
  • Irresistible explorers’ temptation

Who cares?

  • biologists
  • geologists
  • hydrologists
  • engineers
  • military
  • historians
  • explorers

3 thoughts on “Area Spelunker Donates Cave Collection”

  1. Thanks, Dennis, for the excellent blog recognizing Bill’s unique gift to the library. I spent many hours perusing his collection and used it many times for my research. It’s good to know that it will be curated properly and available to others for generations to come.

    Jerry Atkinson. Class of 1983.

    Texas Speleological Survey
    Texas Speleological Association
    Texas Cave Management Association
    Southwestern Region of the National Speleological Society
    Association of Mexican Cave Studies

  2. Thank you for your interest in Bill Mixon’s Cave Library. Are
    you planning to have some of the books in an open library for reading in your library? If so, this will provide a place for the citizens of Texas to read about caves. If there is access, this would encourage others to donate their books as well. Your
    library is now one of the five largest cave book collections in the nation that is open to the public.

  3. Former geosciences librarian at the University of Arkansas here. Congratulations on landing such a unique collection! I wonder, will this material be publicly searchable in your online catalog or perhaps even have some special tagging or way to bring up the list of all of it? I am asking this as I would like to alert my former colleagues in Fayetteville, who focus on karst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>