What does Arnold van Vliet read?

Published on
March 23, 2009

Arnold van Vliet studied biology in Wageningen, and since his graduation in 1996, he has held several positions within the Environmental Systems Analysis Group (ESA). In the last years he has been an assistant professor. Arnold works on monitoring, analysing, predicting and communicating the effects of climate change on nature and the consequences for society. The 36-year-old scientist is the initiator and coordinator of the Natuurkalender (Nature Calendar) and (Nature Report).

He explains the Nature Calendar: "Together with more than 7,000 volunteers, hundreds of school children and more than 30 organisations, we study the moment at which annually recurring phenomenon in nature (phenological phenomena) occur. We look for the moment of flowering, leaf colour change, bird migration and the appearance of butterflies. We've determined that the growing season is becoming longer because of the rising temperatures. We also look at how the changes in the growing season influence different parts in society. One of the subjects is allergies. On the Allergy Radar, we, along with hay fever patients, determine when they have complaints, where they have them, and the amount they have. We want to use this information to improve the hay fever forecast." Arnold continues, "In the spring of 2008, we set up the website Natuurbericht. In collaboration with a large number of nature organisations and knowledge institutes, we publish daily at least two reports on the current developments in nature. The goal is to broaden the knowledge about and the perception of nature and therefore enlarge the support for the preservation of nature. Our target group is the Dutch public but also the media."

For his work, Arnold is a daily user of the digital library. He explains, "When writing scientific and popular scientific articles, I dive into the existing literature. Sometimes I don't immediately have an answer to journalists' questions. But, through the library, I can find an answer pretty fast. For example, a few years ago I got questions about why there were so many wasps. It turns out that the Netherlands has little expertise in this area and at the time I found a scientific article on this material from the 1970s. With this information, we can answer the questions about (many or few) wasps every year and we also got ideas for new research in this area. He calls the digital library 'a fantastic and inexhaustible source of information' and notices that many colleagues in the Netherlands and abroad do not have these facilities at their disposal. "We take it for granted but I think that the employees from Wageningen UR don't realise the luxurious position they're in." Arnold and his colleagues also regularly consult Lexis Nexis to keep abreast of all the newspaper articles in their field in the Netherlands and Belgium. Scopus, in particular, is used for scientific literature.

In closing, Arnold van Vlient has one piece of good advice for the Library: "Keep doing what you're doing. Effective access to knowledge is the basis of our organisation."

(newsletter 2009-6)