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SPRI Review 2001: Library and Information Services

Library and Information Services

W.J. Mills, Librarian and Keeper

As outlined in the 'Director's Introduction,' the major development this year has been the launch of the Scott Polar Research Institute Fund. From the perspective of the Library and Information Service, this action is exceptionally welcome, recognising as it does that the work of the Museum, Archives, and Library have a national and indeed international dimension and thus require resourcing beyond what can be supplied by the University of Cambridge. The national role of the Archives, in particular, was made manifest in one of the year's best pieces of news: the acquisition of the Endurance diary of Dr A.H. Macklin and the official archive of Quest, purchased at Christie's with the aid of large grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). UKAHT made a further grant of £5000 to commission a feasibility report on the future of the Museum. This is part of a coherent strategy to move the Museum towards registration, a necessary requirement to be eligible for grants from national bodies. In addition to the feasibility report, a prime need is for the collection of artefacts to be documented according to standards established by Resource, the national body responsible for museums, archives, and libraries. Whilst an accessions list and card index has been maintained for this collection for many years, more recently supplemented by a computer file, considerable labour is required to convert this information into a format acceptable to Resource. By extreme good fortune, the Institute counts among its Friends Jennifer Hirsch, a professional museum documentalist, who has voluntarily spent many hours entering the records on a MODES database. At the same time, another Friend, Deirdre Hanna, has been word-processing the typescript supplementary catalogue for the collection of manuscripts, essential work for the planned creation of an internet listing of all holdings in the Archives. Applications have been made to two national funding agencies to support this work and a further grant of $30,000 received from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation to fund related work specifically concerning the expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

In May, the Librarian and Keeper, William Mills, represented the Institute at the annual meeting of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, a largely American organisation, of which the Institute is proud to be one of the very few European members. Last year's report made reference to The encyclopedia of polar exploration (San Diego and Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2004). This has made excellent progress this year.