Mission and History

Mission and History

Our Mission

The mission of the NOAA Central Library is to support and further NOAA’s mission of promoting global environmental stewardship in order to conserve and wisely manage the Nation's marine and coastal resources; and describing, monitoring, and predicting changes in the Earth's environment in order to ensure and enhance sustainable economic opportunities.  The NCRL provides scientific, technical and legislative information covering global climate change, aquaculture, coastal zone management, fisheries, meteorology, ocean/atmospheric interactions, remote sensing, cartography, geophysics, photogrammetry, GIS, and water resources to NOAA scientists, administrators, and others working in related disciplines in support of NOAA's programs. 

The NCRL primarily serves the NOAA research community of federal and contract employees within the Department of Commerce as well as other government agencies.  In addition, we provide services and assistance to others within the scientific community and general public.  The NOAA Central Library is networked with the NOAA Library and Information Network which consists of 20 other NOAA libraries located throughout the United States each with its own uniquely-focused collection.  The NOAA Central Library can access the resources of these specialized libraries and broaden the services offered to its clients.  Please see the NOAA Network Libraries page for more information on the libraries included.

The library has an extensive collection of historical Coast and Geodetic Survey materials (from 1807) and Weather Bureau materials (from the 1830's), including foreign meteorological data. These materials include historical meteorological data, information on instruments, and metadata.  Furthermore, the library is proud to house rare 17th century works of Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle; 18th century works from  Daniel Bernouilli, Daniel Defore, and Pierre Bougher, and 19th century materials from Benjamin Franklin and George Washington Carver.  The NCRL's collection is multidisciplinary and includes works in a variety of fields including (but not limited to): oceanography, ocean engineering, marine resources, ecosystems, coastal studies, atmospheric sciences (climatology and meteorology), geodesy, geophysics, cartography, mathematics, and statistics.  Additionally the library holds a large collection of Local Climate Data from all states dating back, in some instances, to the late 19th century. 


From C&GS original collection, handwritten note in book: Library of the Survey of the Coast" as handwritten by Ferdinand Hassler in: "Astronomie: Theorique and Pratique" by Delambre, 1814. Part of the original library of the Coast Survey.


The Library traces its origin to the collection started by F.R. Hassler, the first Superintendent of the Coast Survey, in 1811.  The Weather Bureau library and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries were founded in 1871.  When NOAA was established in 1970, the libraries of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (formerly Bureau of Commercial Fisheries) merged into the NOAA Central Library.  In 1976, the  Atmospheric Sciences and the Marine and Earth Sciences Libraries merged and formed the basis of the NOAA Central Library.  The Library and Information Services Division (LISD) was established to manage the NOAA Central and Regional Libraries. Eventually, the LISD was transferred to the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in 2016 and was renamed the NOAA Central and Regional Libraries.

For more history on the the Coast and Geodetic Survey, visit the library's Coast and Geodetic Survey History page.