The John L. Bull Library Is Open For Research
The John L. Bull Library is open and free to Bedford Audubon members and the community for ornithological and natural sciences research. The list of volumes in our collection can be viewed at LibraryThing, an online book catalog. Volunteers will assist you in your research; please call Bedford Audubon at 914.232.1999 to schedule a time to visit the library.
The John L. Bull Library, housed at Bylane Farm, features the Bull Collection, 700 birding and natural science books previously owned by renowned ornithologist John Bull (1914-2006). The books were donated to Bedford Audubon in 2010 by his widow, Edith Hellman Bull.
John Bull was a noted ornithologist, field researcher, and author of Birds of New York State, published in 1974. In the 1960s and 70s, as a research assistant at the American Museum of Natural History, John Bull led birding tours of Long Island and Central Park and later to destinations around the world. Bull's seminal work Birds of New York State is an exhaustive survey that documents the seasonal and geographic occurrence of all the bird species – breeding birds, transients and winterers as well – that have been recorded in New York State (over 400).
He was the first to notice the destructive effect of habitat fragmentation on birds, and to suggest that a milder climate was causing southerly species to move into our area. He also recorded shifts in migration patterns as a result of climate change. The book and its revisions has remained the definitive work on the state's avifauna ever since.
In addition to the books, four original paintings grace the Bull Library at Bylane. The artworks are by artists Roger Tory Peterson, Don Eckelberry, Walter Ferguson and Don Malick, all one-time New York State residents. Their bird and wildlife paintings illustrate John Bull's Birds of New York State.
The library was officially inaugurated in June, 2011. The enthusiastic guest of honor at the library dedication was lively ninety-nine-year-old Edith Bull, who traveled from her home in Far Rockaway, Queens, with daughter Doris Kraus and family. A former researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, Edith Bull is an accomplished ornithologist in her own right and co-author with her husband of several birding guides. She was feted at Bylane by numerous members of the extended Bull family, Bedford Audubon Society's board of directors, and selected guests.
Board president Walter Fowler acknowledged the organization's deep gratitude to Edith Bull for her donation and noted how honored Bedford Audubon Society is to be the guardian of John Bull's personal collection of nature books and artworks. Mr. Fowler conveyed a tribute to Edith Bull from David Yarnold, President and CEO of National Audubon Society, who wrote: "Audubon leaders, members and staff across the country join you in celebrating the installation of The John L. Bull Library…a wonderful storehouse of knowledge, reference and beauty for all."
Among the guests at the library dedication was thirteen-year-old South Salem resident Rachel Smith, an avid birder with an eye towards a career in ornithology, who said, "It is amazing to meet Edith Bull and be part of this celebration. It's a day I'll never forget."
Many volunteer hours, as well as donations in kind, went into the physical construction of the Bull Library at Bylane. The chief visionary is Bedford Audubon Board Member Carol Cioppa of Pound Ridge (Cioppa Architects LLC), and custom bookcases were constructed by member Peter Becker of Katonah, retired cabinetmaker.
The exacting task of organizing and cataloging the books has been in the hands of retired librarian Barbara Shapiro of Hastings-on-Hudson. Ms. Shapiro, who worked for the New York Public Library for many years, chose as the "digital home" for the Bull collection an online cataloging application called LibraryThing, described as a "Facebook for books." Thanks to her volunteer effort, the collection is accessible at Bylane as a research library. The volumes in our collection are listed at this site: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/BedfordAudubonSoc
In addition to the Bull Collection, Bylane contains books obtained from Cornell University, which has become the Cornell Collection. These books are also cataloged on LibraryThing.
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