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SPRI Review 2006: Library and Information Service

Library and Information Service

Model sledge and Inuit doll from East Greenland, from the Museum Collection
Image as described adjacent

The success of new undergraduate courses in the Department of Geography on 'Arctic Peoples' and 'Glacial Processes' in attracting large numbers of students led to a substantial rise in undergraduate use of the library during the year. In addition, staff cooperated in a joint user-education scheme with the Earth Sciences Library to provide training for new postgraduate students in the use of electronic resources. Beyond the University, the Library received almost 400 visits from external readers and demand for polar information from enquirers around the world continued to rise. Library staff also began a major review of the Universal Decimal Classification for use in Polar Libraries, preparatory to a new revised edition.

A total of 1801 items were added to the Library. 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 2005. Three issues of Polar and Glaciological Abstracts were published by Cambridge University Press and records were sent for two updates of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM published by the National Information Services Corporation. Despite decreased funding, we were also able to continue our input to the Antarctic Bibliography. We were pleased to host a visit from Sharon Tahirkheli, Director of Information Systems (GeoRef) at the American Geological Institute and Manager of the Cold Regions Bibliography Project. The Antarctic Bibliography is searchable free of charge on the web at

Funding from the Friends of SPRI allowed the Library to appoint Jeremy Wong to a part-time post, enabling the reduction of the acquisitions backlog and augmenting the work of Hilary Shibata and Isabella Warren as Antarctic and Russian bibliographers, respectively. A further award in November provided for continued assistance with processing and cataloguing of new materials acquired through the first purchases using the William Mills Fund.

Library staff also play an important role in wider developments within the university, and at the national and international level. In March, Librarian Heather Lane discussed development of the International Polar Year (IPY) Data Policy at a workshop run by the IPY Data and Information Service. She also attended the IPY Education, Outreach and Communication workshop in Brussels and joined the design team for the new IPY web site She was the guest speaker at the International Library and Information Group meeting in April and ESU in May, lecturing on her experience as the winner of the 2005 English Speaking Union/CILIP Travelling Librarian Award. In addition, Mrs Lane continued to chair the Cambridge University Bibliographic Standards Working Party and was elected to the General Board Committee on Libraries. She also attended the Polar Libraries Colloquy in Rome in May, where she gave a joint presentation on the development of the IPY Publications Database and was voted in as Chair-Elect of the Colloquy for 2006 to 2008.

Volunteers play an important role in researching and maintaining the Library's collections. Jonathan Pinhey, John Reid and Maria Shorthouse all gave unstintingly of their time and expertise during the year. Percy Hammond and Jean Cruttwell continued to develop the map catalogue and delivered the first phase of the database in Access format. The Institute would like to acknowledge the assistance given by the volunteers, whose efforts are greatly appreciated.

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

Ministry of Defence grant in aid (DSNOM) £35,000
Royal Society grant in aid (for WDC-C) £11,000
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Polar Regions Unit) £ 5,000
Swedish Programme for Social Science Research in the Polar Regions £ 1,000

During the year the Library also hosted a number of scholars visiting the Institute for extended periods, including: Dr Hermann Bardarson (University of Bergen, Norway); Níels Einarsson (Director, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland); Dr Bernadette Hince (Australian National University, Canberra); Prof. Larry Rockhill (University of Alaska); Professor Matti Seppala (Department of Geography, Helsinki University, Finland); Professor Enrique Serrano Cañadas (Professor of Physical Geography, University of Valladolid, Spain).

Heather Lane