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SPRI Review 1998: Library and Information Service

Library and Information Service

Picture Library

Manager: Philippa Smith

The Picture Library has now been up and running for almost two years, and continues to thrive, enjoying the benefits of our new climate-controlled storage facility. Despite the upheaval of the building work, we managed to operate for the duration, and have continued to receive a large number of requests for material. During the year, we have been heavily involved in providing images for many publications, exhibitions, and television productions. These include the recent BBC documentary Icemen, the South Bank Show, the National Geographic Magazine, Caroline Alexander's new Endurance book, a planetarium dome in Washington, and the forthcoming Shackleton exhibition to be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. We also have wall space in Waterstone's Bookshop in Cambridge for an indefinite period, where we have an ongoing display of black-and-white polar photographs. The Picture Library has worked in conjunction with the Friends of the Institute to publish the first SPRI calendar, and has placed photographic displays in the new Friends' Room in the Shackleton Memorial Library and in the SPRI Museum. Many thanks are due to Ron Wilbraham and David Powell for their help with mounting these displays.

The collection has continued to grow, with donations of photographs from several sources, including Alfred Stephenson, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, Lawson Brigham, Jerry Kobalenko, Netta Sinclair, Shirley Sawtell, Peter Clarkson, the Chard Museum, and further additions from Charles Swithinbank and Chris Furse. Other offers of material have also been made, and so it is hoped that the expansion is not stopping just yet.

The accessioning and cataloguing of material continues to make progress, and a great debt is owed to David Powell and Ailsa Mcqueen for their help with this work. Thanks to David, the entire Frank Illingworth collection of some 4000 photographs, negatives, and slides has been listed and catalogued. We are also grateful to Andrew Spurgin, Alex Scott, and Tim Kearsey for their assistance, especially as the latter two were here, as work experience students, when life in the Picture Library was at its worst due to builders and pneumatic drills. An experimental database has been set up with a view to mounting a polar pictures database accessible on the Internet.

Mrs Smith attended a week's conference in York on the 'Care of photographic, moving image and sound collections,' and she gained much useful knowledge about conservation, preservation, and current thinking about dealing with the inescapable problem of fading images. She has also attended one-day courses on the topics of 'Fee negotiation' and 'Digital imaging' - both important aspects of running the Picture Library.