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The Shackleton Memorial Library

The Shackleton Memorial Library

Progress Report 3

from Captain Joe

This is Installment Three of the continuing story of the construction of the Shackleton Memorial Library.

Since the last installment, a great deal has been accomplished. The new basement, which will be the new map room, is all enclosed. Because the deck of the basement sits below the water table, a bilge pump is being installed, to pump out a sump into which any water will run. The basement itself has a waterproofing membrane to keep the water on the outside of the watertight envelope, and it works just as designed. The 1969 basement had a reinforced concrete bulkhead, which had to come down to provide access into the new basement. The builders of the 1969 structure built well and strong, such that we felt that we were cutting into King Tut's tomb, and that is the name that the new map room has acquired. Other work on the basement level included moving the compressors for the two walkin cold rooms, capable of temperatures of -40C, and piping and wiring for the new heating system.

The visible work well underway is the rotunda. If you come to see us today, you will see that the rotunda, both as to size and shape, is now discernible. Getting the concrete up to the 2nd level of the drum-shaped building was a neat trick, and involved pumping it up in the semi-liquid state. All of the logistics of getting large cranes, trucks, and forklifts in and out of our very small site have been a real challenge to our contractor. Besides the rotunda, the decks of the new library itself are starting to go in.

Inside the building, the pit for the lift has been dug and lined with the same type of watertight membrane as in the basement. The steelwork is being prefabricated, and will be assembled just like a big Meccano or Erector set. The emergency lighting and fire alarm systems are being completely renewed and brought up to current British Standard. Even so, with all of the work that is going on both inside and out, we are still providing all of our services except the Museum.

Those of you who have been a student or Visiting Scholar here at SPRI in the last several years will remember the four PortaKabins (sic) in the back. The first of those has departed forever. It turns out that PK are a very desirable commodity, and we had several bidders. The lucky winner took his purchase away on a rainy Friday morning. The remaining three will be sold as soon as the contract is complete.

The contract completion date remains 4 July 1998. I am expecting to take about 6 weeks to get the Institute back to full operation, before I will feel that my work is complete. Once I do feel that the job is done, Mary and I will return to America. What started out to be a year to do a Master's degree will end up being more than three years by the time we leave.

Written at seven bells of the afternoon watch, with the contract on schedule.

Captain Joe, 9 March 1998