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SPRI Review 1995: SPRI Review 1995

SPRI Review 1995

Library and Information Service

W.J. Mills, Librarian and Information Officer
S. Banks, P. Hogg, J. Pinhey, S. Sawtell, H. Shibata, I. Warren

1994/95 has witnessed the most extensive changes to the library's computing infrastructure since the introduction of the SPRILIB bibliographic database in 1985. Those familiar with the Institute in recent years will recall that in 1985 the card catalogue was replaced by a database loaded on innovatory Muscat information retrieval software written by Dr Martin Porter. At the time, Muscat's principal advantage was that, through relevance feedback and term weighting, readers could conduct quite sophisticated subject and author searches without having to be taught the intricacies of Boolean logic. Dr Porter has since demonstrated Muscat's considerable power and flexibility in numerous supplementary programs, for example, in providing the SPRILIST current awareness service, in typesetting camera-ready copy for Polar and Glaciological Abstracts, and in reformatting records for addition to the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM and to MARC format for addition to the Cambridge University Union Catalogue. During 1994/95, not only was SPRILIB reloaded on updated Muscat software to offer a greatly improved user interface together with integrated acquisitions, accessions, and cataloguing modules, but, with the installation of the Institute's network, it, together with a range of other information services, may now be accessed from the individual workstations of Institute staff, students, and visitors. In 1995/96, our intention is to make as many of these services as possible also accessible to the international polar research community by means of the Internet.

Of the special projects reported in last year's SPRI Review, good progress has continued to be made with the Historic Antarctic Bibliography Project and with collaborative compilation of the Antarctic Bibliography with the Library of Congress. With regard to the former, the second major phase involving the processing of J.H. Roscoe's bibliography has now been completed and a start made on the third phase centering on the 1951-1961 retrospective bibliography originally compiled by the Library of Congress, fittingly with extensive collaboration from the Institute. These two major projects form part of a comprehensive strategy at the conclusion of which all significant Antarctic literature will be made available through the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM and Internet.

Other significant developments this year have included the adoption of the Institute as an IGBP Regional Information Centre, one of approximately 60 libraries receiving the full collection of IGBP reports and publications. The Librarian has also continued to gather material for his forthcoming book 'Keyguide to information sources on the polar and cold regions' (London: Mansell 1997). To date, by means of desk research and questionnaires, information has been collected on approximately 2000 research institutes, libraries, and museums with polar interests.

Library acquisitions and cataloguing programmes

A total of 2300 items were added to the library, including 850 books. With no significant increase in funds available for purchasing books and periodicals, the Library is only able to continue to acquire so many items through the generosity of those who give either books or money. Among the latter, Mrs E.A. MacDonald, the Sexton family, and Mr John Wright have been particularly generous in establishing bequests to preserve the memories of Captain MacDonald, David Sexton, and Dorothy Fetherstonhaugh, respectively, all of whom themselves contributed greatly to the Institute when living. A generous grant was also received from the Friends. This year's most significant donation of books was received from Mr Alan B. Crawford, who presented his library of books and manuscripts about Tristan da Cunha. Other numerous gifts were received from polar organizations and authors. The Library is particularly grateful to the latter, many of whom make a point of sending offprints of their articles for addition to the collection and listing in SPRILIB and Polar and Glaciological Abstracts. By the end of the period covered, SPRILIB held 86,360 records, with 9751 records added during the year. Approximately 14,500 monograph records had been added to the Cambridge University Union Catalogue.

Library staff changes

All those who have had dealings with World Data Centre C for Glaciology will be aware of the contribution made by Ailsa Macqueen. As WDC Manager, Mrs Macqueen was responsible for building up a collection covering all aspects of snow and ice that is without rival anywhere. Itinerant glaciologists will remember Ailsa for the warmth of her welcome, her diligence, and unflagging enthusiasm. The new Manager, Oliver Merrington, brings his own skills and ability to the post and we are fortunate to have been able to appoint to this post an information specialist of his information and scientific qualifications and general interest in glaciology.

Library volunteers and work placements

The Library continued to benefit greatly from work carried out by its growing team of volunteers. During the year, Mrs Pat Little completed a recataloguing project in the course of which all books in the collection published up to 1880 were added to SPRILIB. Given the uniqueness of the Library's early holdings, this is a major achievement. Making these records available through SPRILIB greatly enhances their accessibility not only to those searching SPRILIB within the Institute but also to all those with access to the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM on which SPRILIB is loaded. With the departure of Ailsa Macqueen, Ron Wilbraham took over scanning The Times for items of polar interest, in addition to his existing duties as Honorary Map Curator. In this context, the work of A.G.E. Jones and many others who regularly send in cuttings identified from a wide range of British and overseas newspapers should be acknowledged with appreciation. Without their help, the press cuttings collection would be restricted to items in The Times. The Library benefited greatly from the presence of Chuen-chi Brace (National Library of Australia). During a period of three months, Mrs Brace processed all remaining card records for Antarctic botany before turning her attention to the seals and sealing monographs and then to the glaciological monographs, for all of which SPRILIB records were created before her departure. Marcus West kindly assisted in the processing of material relating to Spitsbergen.

Work experience placements were found for Cheryl Stark, Jacob Potter, Alistair Phillips, Stefan Starkie, and Susanne Steckel. Ms Steckel's ability to provide excellent German translations for the Historic Antarctic Bibliography Project proved particularly helpful and led to her being employed subsequently on a casual basis in order to complete this work.