skip to primary navigation skip to content

SPRI Review 2005: Library and Information Service

Library and Information Service

Carving of man in kayak by a Baffin Island artist
Image as described adjacent

As well as providing a service to members of the University, the Library received almost 800 visits from external readers, and staff made extensive use of the Institute's renowned polar collections to satisfy requests from around the world for information. The Librarian and her assistant, Rebecca Stancombe, completed a benchmarking exercise designed by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council, to assess how well all service provision and procedures meet formal national standards. Staff and volunteers also carried out a stock check of the special collections in preparation for a more thorough Preservation Assessment Survey.

A total of 1949 items were added to the library, including 1146 books and other monographic materials. The sections of the library catalogue accessible via the web as SPRILIB (Antarctica, Ice and Snow and Russian North) were also updated to include material published up to the end of 2004. Three issues of Polar and Glaciological Abstracts were published by Cambridge University Press and records sent for two updates of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM published by the National Information Services Corporation. A final year of funding from the British Antarctic Survey enabled us to continue our input to the Antarctic Bibliography at AGI. Approximately 500 items were contributed during the year. The Antarctic Bibliography is searchable free of charge on the web at

2005 saw a number of staff changes. After fifteen years service as Library Assistant, Sharon Banks left to get married and was succeeded by Mark Gilbert, who comes to SPRI from a post at the University Library. Jonathan Pinhey retired as Scandinavian Bibliographer, but we are grateful for his continued occasional assistance as a volunteer. Shirley Sawtell continued as Library and Information Assistant and Hilary Shibata and Isabella Warren as Antarctic and Russian bibliographers, respectively. Staff attended training courses during the year on a range of topics including disability awareness, fire safety, serials cataloguing and preservation of archives.

Librarian, Heather Lane, won the 2005 English Speaking Union/CILIP Travelling Librarian Award, which enabled her to spend three weeks in the United States in the autumn, visiting libraries, archives and museums with polar collections. The first part of her tour took her to Alaska, where she was able to develop contacts with colleagues in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Barrow and Juneau, before moving on to Colorado to spend a week based at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder. She returned via New York, where she visited the archives of the Explorers Club. In addition, Mrs Lane chaired the Cambridge University Libraries Automation Group Working Party on Bibliographic Standards, successfully steering members of the University's Union Catalogue towards adoption of a common standard.

Percy Hammond and Jean Cruttwell continued to work on the map catalogue and the library intends to make the results of their efforts publicly available in the near future. John Reid's work on the Antarctic biography card index and assistance with biographical and technical enquiries once again proved invaluable. The Librarian was also pleased to welcome as volunteers Jeremy Wong, formerly Head of the University Library Offices, and Mrs Maria Shorthouse. Tarquin Bertram, grandson of Colin Bertram (a former Director of SPRI), joined us for a period of work experience from Saffron Walden High School and Julia Sörlin from Parkside School spent a day shadowing library staff. The Library would like to acknowledge the assistance given by the volunteers, whose efforts are greatly appreciated.

In addition to research grants received for specific projects, the Institute received, during the financial year, sums for the general support of information and library services. Thanks are due to the following supporting bodies:

Ministry of Defence grant in aid (DSNOM) £35,000
NERC British Antarctic Survey £20,000
Royal Society grant in aid (for WDC-C) £11,000
Jephcott Charitable Trust £10,000
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Polar Regions)
£ 5,000
Thriplow Charitable Trust £ 5,000

During the year the library also received a number of visiting scholars, including: Enrique del Acebo Ibanez (Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina); Níels Einarsson (Director, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland); Judy Hall (Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa); Jan Hjort (Department of Geography, University of Helsinki); Meredith Hooper; Dr Marek Kejna (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland); Edward Larson (University of Georgia); Elizabeth Leane (School of English, Journalism and European Languages, University of Tasmania); Andrew Mackintosh (School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand); Carl Murray (Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania); David Neufeld (Parks Canada); Jens Nielson (Department of History, University of Tromsø, Norway); Prof. Atsuma Ohmura (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich)); Dag Ottesen (Geological Survey of Norway); Lars Poort (Uummannaq, Greenland); Prof. Larry Rockhill (University of Alaska).

Heather Lane