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SPRI Review 2000: SPRI Review 2000

SPRI Review 2000

Library and Information Service

W.J. Mills, Keeper and Librarian

All years are busy in the Library and Information Service. This year we have sadly to report departures of two members of staff who have made stalwart contributions but also a number of significant new developments.

The Picture Library has continued to flourish although now alas! must do so without its founding manager, Philippa Smith, who has gone to face new challenges in the University's Press Office. Philippa did an outstanding job in establishing the Picture Library as a commercial concern, essentially from scratch. Although photographic requests had generated useful income previously, to establish this service on a scale whereby all costs, including salary, were covered within 18 months was a tremendous achievement. Lucy Martin, previously picture library assistant, has been appointed acting picture manager, a job for which she is well-qualified with a diploma in museum and gallery studies and considerable familiarity with the collection. We were also sorry to lose Natasha Egorova as the Librarian's secretary. Natasha made a great contribution, and to have a Russian-speaking assistant in the Library Office proved exceptionally useful both to the Librarian, who was therefore able to ensure database entries for the very large collection of Russian monographs, and also to Isabella Warren, the Russian bibliographer, whom Natasha was able to assist in the processing of more recent acquisitions. Those not familiar with the Library should perhaps be informed that for the Russian Arctic, the Institute's collections are generally held to be the most comprehensive outside Russia itself and the Library of Congress.

Thanks to a grant of £3200 from The Thriplow Trust, considerable progress has been made this year with the Oral History Programme. In addition to covering travelling, filming, and other expenses, the grant enabled Dr Pam Davis to be employed as oral history co-ordinator on a part-time basis for several months. Before this year, 10 interviews had been carried out over a period of several years. This year alone eight more have been completed, with Colin Bertram, Ken Blaiklock, Dr John Heap, Sir Martin Holdgate, Harry King, Dr Bernard Stonehouse, Kevin Walton, and John Wright all interviewed on video. Dr Stonehouse, Dr Heap, Dr Charles Swithinbank, and Dr David Walton kindly donated their time as interviewers, whilst the camera work was carried out by Mary Ledzion, Lucy Martin, and Isona Shibata, all recently trained by Christopher Warren, who had been responsible for all previous filming. We are grateful to all who have helped with this important programme, preserving on film what often has not previously been preserved on paper or by any other means.

In addition to organising the public lecture series for the Friends of the Institute, the Keeper and Librarian, William Mills, has found himself increasingly in demand as a lecturer, giving two lectures on Cambridge's place in polar history to the Cambridge Blue Guides, and other talks on historical topics to the Alumni of Cambridge University, Cambridge Libraries Group, and Cambridge Junior Commerce. He has also been commissioned to act as chief author and editor of the forthcoming two-volume reference work The encyclopedia of polar exploration to be published by ABC-Clio in 2003. In June, William attended the 18th Polar Libraries Colloquy in Winnipeg presenting a paper, 'Expedition indexing and the organization of polar materials,' and reading a paper on behalf of Philippa Smith, 'The SPRI Picture Library - opening up the collections.' William was re-elected PLC secretary/treasurer. Isabella Warren, Russian bibliographer, attended the Internation Slavic Librarians Conference 'Libraries in the Open Society' at Tallinn, Estonia, 26-28 July, where she gave a paper, 'Developing a regional collection based on the case of the Scott Polar Research Institute Library.'