skip to primary navigation skip to content

SPRI Review 2007: Library and Information Service

Library and Information Service

The library continues to provide a service to members of the University, and to national and international scholars, receiving over 600 visits from external readers. Electronic requests for information on the polar regions from enquirers around the world accounted for over 60% of the enquiry work undertaken. Undergraduate use of the library also continued to rise. Library staff cooperated for the second year running in a joint user education scheme with the Earth Sciences and Geography Libraries to provide training for new postgraduate students in the use of electronic resources. During 2007, the Library also played host to visitors from Cambridge in America, as well as providing tours during the Alumni Weekend.

A total of 1621 monographic items and issues for 577 periodical titles were added to the library during the year. 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 2006. Publication of Polar and Glaciological Abstracts was undertaken in-house for the first time, and three issues were produced during the year. Records were again sent for two updates of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions CD-ROM published by the National Information Services Corporation (NISC). Working in co-operation with the World Data Centre for Glaciology, records of items relating to the current International Polar Year were submitted quarterly to the IPY Publications Database,, also hosted by NISC. Input continued to the Antarctic Bibliography, searchable free of charge at

One notable acquisition during the year was the addition to the Special Collections of a fine association copy of Captain Scott's “The Voyage of the Discovery.” This two volume first edition was the presentation copy from the author to Petty Officer Edgar Evans. It was acquired at auction with generous assistance from Mr Wilf White and the Friends of SPRI.

An Inuit model kayak and accessories from the Institute's collection
Image as described adjacent

With funding provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Library staff were able to undertake the first phase of a scoping study for the Library's planned Data Migration Project. Our aim in undertaking the study was to understand the scale of the problem presented by the use of the existing library management system; to identify what would be required to upgrade the existing information held within the local database to meet the required international standards, and to examine the difficulties inherent in migration, without the need for human editing of every record, to a format which is more generally accessible to other systems.

In an initiative coordinated by Isabella Warren, and funded by the Friends of SPRI, the Library's oral history and sound recordings collection was transferred to digital media. Work progressed in updating a database of holdings, with the intention of depositing the files into the University's digital repository, DSpace@Cambridge. We intend to make this collection of historic recordings accessible via the web in the near future.

Library staff also play an important role in wider developments, both in the university and beyond. The Librarian continued to be involved in discussions on the development of the International Polar Year Data Policy and the work of the IPY Education, Outreach and Communication subcommittee, contributing to the design of the IPY web site She was Chair-Elect of the Polar Libraries Colloquy and guest speaker at a Cambridge Society meeting in May and the Polar Archives Symposium at the British Library in November. In addition, Mrs Lane continued to chair the Cambridge University Bibliographic Standards Working Party and continued as the School's representative on the General Board Committee on Libraries. She attended two meetings of the International Society for Knowledge Organisation and the JISC national conference, as well as the Digital Preservation Coalition JPEG2000 workshop at the British Library. She also acted as an external examiner for the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies at University College London. Library, Archives and Picture Library staff were pleased to be invited to tour the Royal Collections at Windsor Castle in November.

Volunteers play an important role in researching and maintaining the Library's collections. Percy Hammond and Jean Cruttwell continued work on the map catalogue and updating the Access database. John Pearce, a member of the Friends, volunteered a week of his time to assist with a cataloguing project. Ailsa MacQueen, John Reid, Maria Shorthouse and Jonathan Pinhey all provided time and expertise on a variety of projects during the year. The Library would like to acknowledge all 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. We thank the following supporting bodies:

Ministry of Defence grant in aid (DSNOM) £35,000
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation £12,640
Royal Society grant in aid (for WDC-C) £11,000
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Polar Regions Unit) £5,000

During the year the Library also hosted a number of scholars visiting the Institute for extended periods, including: Prof. Paul Berkman (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA); Professor Bjørn Basberg (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration); Professor Petri Pellikka (University of Helsinki, Finland); Dr Peter Dann (Melbourne University, Australia); Jennifer Newton (University of Alaska, Fairbanks); Dr Bruce Minore (Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research, Thunder Bay, Ontario); Prof. Larry Rockhill (University of Alaska, Fairbanks).

Heather Lane