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SPRI Review 1998: Library and Information Service

Library and Information Service


Library Office: S. Sawtell, S. Banks, N. Egorova
Bibliographers: J. Pinhey, H. Shibata, I. Warren

As reported above, the Library continued to function throughout the construction period, although the number of readers was inevitably reduced with those able to come at another time no doubt choosing to do so. The record cataloguing achievement may be attributed to several factors, the reduced number of readers being one, although probably more significant was the fact that for much of the year cataloguing was one of the few activities that could be carried out. As in previous years, a major contribution was made by volunteers, among whom Jed Brierley, Pat Little, and Mary Wubbold deserve special mention. A final factor was the project assigned to the Library by the British Antarctic Survey. This involved the extension of the Historic Antarctic Bibliography Project to marine mammals, whaling, and sealing. During the year we discovered large quantities of material relating to Antarctic species and their historic exploitation, comparatively little of which appears to have been listed in previous Antarctic bibliographies.

Three members of the Library staff travelled abroad in fulfilment of their duties. The 17th Polar Libraries Colloquy was held 20-25 September at Reykjavik, Iceland, and was attended by the keeper, William Mills, together with Jonathan Pinhey and Hilary Shibata, Nordic and Antarctic bibliographers, respectively. This meeting was for the first time held jointly with the International Aquatic Sciences and Marine Libraries and Information Centres association (IAMSLIC). Polar and marine libraries have much in common and further joint meetings are likely. Prior to the conference, Mr Mills took part in a workshop held in Akureyri, during which he was able to visit the new Stefansson Arctic Institute, named after the renowned explorer Vijlhalmar Stefansson who was born in Akureyri. Three papers and a poster were presented at the conference: 'Collaborating with the Cold Regions Bibliography Project: the SPRI experience (Hilary Shibata)'; 'If Tarzan can do it, so can you!: a practical and positive approach to reading more of those polar (and sub-polar) languages' (Jonathan Pinhey); and 'SPRILIB multimedia: new databases at the Scott Polar Research Institute' (paper) and 'The Shackleton Memorial Library at the Scott Polar Research Institute: a new international resource for the study of the polar regions' (poster) by William Mills, the latter with the assistance of Robert Headland, who provided both photographs and accompanying audio tape. Mr Mills also participated in a panel discussion on collaboration between libraries and scientific societies. He remains secretary/treasurer of the Polar Libraries Colloquy. Earlier in the year, Mr Mills attended the annual meeting of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) in Washington, DC. The Institute is now an International Member of ARCUS and Mr Mills has been elected to the ARCUS International Collaboration Committee. In addition to learning about the most active areas of US Arctic research, opportunity was provided for outlining the Institute's current research programme, opportunities for collaboration with US researchers, and the facilities available at the Shackleton Memorial Library as an international research centre.

Mr Mills' long-researched book Keyguide to information sources on the polar and cold regions (co-authored with Peter Speak, ISBN 0-7201-2176-0) was published by Mansell in July 1998. It offers a comprehensive guide to printed, CD-ROM, online, and Internet resources.

Acquisitions and cataloguing programmes

A total of 2366 items were added to the Library, including 947 books. A number of major donations were received, of which by far the largest was the bequest of Wilfred White's magnificent polar library, containing books collected since the 1920s. This was quite possibly the finest private collection in England. Other donations were received from H. Norman Socha (thanks to whom our collection of Inuit art catalogues is now almost complete), and the Department of Geography. The Russian Collection in particular benefited from the Department of Geography's donation, and from the processing of books bequeathed by Terence Armstrong in 1996-97, as well as from the continuation of the programme by which more recent publications are collected and sent back from the field by post-graduate students and staff. This year books were sent back by Emma Wilson and Paul Fryer. In addition, this year Natasha Egorova completed the cataloguing of the entire Russian monograph collection. There are now more than 15,000 Russian-language items on our bibliographic database SPRILIB. By the end of the period covered, SPRILIB held 127,012 records, with 16,506 added during the year. 27,812 monograph records had been added to the Cambridge University Union Catalogue, including 5,249 new records this year. Four issues of Polar and Glaciological Abstracts were published by Cambridge University Press.

Volunteers and work placements

The work of Jed Brierley, Pat Little, and Mary Wubbold was mentioned in relation to this year's outstanding cataloguing achievement. Others making very welcome contributions were Ron Wilbraham (Honorary Map Curator), John Reid, Octavia Leigh, and Fiona Powell. John Reid's card listing of participants in Antarctic expeditions continues to make excellent progress. All 'Heroic Age' expeditions have now been covered, and Mr Reid is now working on the major expeditions of the first half of the nineteenth century. Once completed, it is our intention to set this up as an Internet-accessible database. A work placement was provided for Helen Stockham (University of Durham).