Colloquy Day One

Our thanks to Shelly Sommer, Information & Outreach Director, Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR, University of Colorado at Boulder for her account of the first day’s proceedings.

Colloquy – Monday 30 June 2014

The rain had cleared off, and it was a beautiful crisp morning as Heather Lane and her colleagues welcomed us to the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). Sessions this first day had a common theme of collaboration, and each one gave us valuable insights about engagement and process. Anna Malaos of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust gave a keynote on the Trust’s management of historic British huts on the Antarctic Peninsula. Stories and photos showed small teams of volunteers restoring huts abandoned to harsh weather and incursions of ice and mold, felting roofs, restoring foundations, and even running a site (and gift shop) at Port Lockroy as a tourist stop for cruise ships. We were surprised to learn that 18,000 visitors per year stop at the hut, which funds many of their other conservation activities.

Georgina Cronin, recently decamped from the world of polar libraries for a business library posting, challenged us to connect non-polar specialists with our polar collections. Using polar collections in non-polar contexts allows us to expand beyond the bounds of our areas of specialty, enriching our users’ experiences and taking advantage of the status of libraries as neutral spaces.

Shannon Vossepoel showed us some exciting plans for the Arctic Science and Technology Information System (ASTIS). They are moving from being primarily a bibliographic database to becoming a repository, adding full-text materials. At the moment ASTIS links to 22,000 documents, but most are behind publishers’ paywalls. The team is working with the Northern Contaminants Program to make their materials available, and are starting to work with oil companies with unique content. They are supporting communities’ efforts to preserve and share their own materials using ASTIS. Further developments include using ORCID to identify authors and experts, and integrating with the Arctic Connect platform that will allow the to map their publications. Shannon will even be introducing ASTIS at an upcoming maker fair!

Lunch introduced the prolific British approach to sandwiches: there must have been a dozen different kinds, with cakes, coffee, and tea. We were given no chance to doze after lunch, however. SPRI’s outreach team of Rosie Amos and Naomi Chapman had us singing climate change karaoke and playing a card-based decision game based on Scott’s expedition. We then toured through SPRI’s linked collections–library, archives, and museum–that work together as a cohesive whole. We lingered over materials and artifacts, and were delighted by the SPRI habit of meeting twice a day for tea, staff and visitors alike, at the ring of the ship’s bell from the Terra Nova.

Ryan Cronin of St. John’s College Library took up the theme of collaboration, encouraging us to find librarians with non-polar collections to work with on outreach programs. Advantages include providing more interesting, well-rounded experiences to participants and engaging new users outside our core. He described his experience working with the Polar Museum at SPRI on a joint effort for students on the theme of exploration, “World of Wonder.” After a successful pilot, the program was tweaked to become a family day activity based around mapping as well.

Marcy Bidney of the American Geographical Society spoke on “Harnessing the Geospatial Semantic Web.” With her map librarian background, she is looking toward spatial interfaces to our catalogs, starting using current technology with interfaces for map catalogs. Library records can be connected to open data sources, such as the GeoNames gazetteer, then display on a map interface.

Last, Christian Salewski of AWI led us through the developing AWI archives. His task is made no easier by German polar research encompassing 146 years and about 7 different states, each with different records practices, or by research being undertaken by individuals rather than institutions through the late 1930s. But the archives are growing quickly, as he collects from various estates and other sources. He is working on a collection policy at present.

A stimulating day, and only the first of the week.


Final schedule released

The conference committee met a few days ago to thrash out the last details, and I am pleased to announce that we have now finalised the schedule for the Polar Libraries Colloquy:

Polar Libraries Colloquy 2014 Schedule

There have been a number of small changes since the first version was circulated, with one talk withdrawn, another added, and a few alterations to days & times – so please make sure to use this rather than any earlier drafts!

We’ll be posting some information on how to get to Cambridge, how to get around, etc, over the next few days. If you have not yet registered, the registration form is still active.

[If you have not yet booked accommodation, please do so ASAP – Churchill College will be releasing its block of rooms over the next few days.]

As always, please get in touch with any questions – anday[at]bas[.]ac[.]uk – and looking forward to seeing you soon.


April update: schedule and conference dinner

I’m happy to announce that we’ve now prepared a first draft of the schedule for the Colloquy: you can download it here.

Please bear in mind that this is still provisional, and we may have to make small changes in the future. However, if you’re considering registering for a single day, it will hopefully help you decide which day suits you best.

We’ve also been able to confirm details for the conference dinner. It will be held on the evening of Wednesday 2 July, in the Fellows’ Dining Room at Churchill College. The cost will be £55 per person, in addition to the cost of Colloquy membership, and can be booked through the conference booking form. Numbers are limited, so please do sign up in advance if you would like to attend!

And finally, we are still accepting submissions for the poster session, so please do get in touch if you would like to present something -or if you have any other questions!

Registration now open!

We’re happy to announce that registration is now open for the 25th Polar Libraries Colloquy, Cambridge, 30 June-3 July 2014.

Register now

Tickets will be £120 for full membership, which includes:

  • the four days of the Colloquy in Cambridge
  • a day trip to visit institutions in London on 4 July
  • travel within Cambridge
  • membership of the Polar Library Colloquy itself (2014-16)

Accommodation is available separately, as is the conference dinner – details on this to follow.

We are still accepting submissions for posters (conference themes), so please do get in touch if you would like to present something!

We are also offering day tickets, priced at £30, which cover a single day of the Colloquy. This will allow local UK institutions to attend without committing to a four-day conference. (In particular, we hope this will be useful for libraries with polar collections but who do not specialise in the field.)

If you are interested in applying for the Hubert Wenger Award, which provides a scholarship to attend the Colloquy, please remember that the deadline to apply is 31 March.

February 2014 Update

Apologies for the delay in getting this up – we’ve had a bit of a complicated handover of people working on the PLC over the past month! An update follows – if you have any questions, please leave a comment or contact anday[at]bas[dot]ac[dot]uk .


We now have a provisional schedule. Speakers have been contacted, and we are waiting on some final details before putting it online. A brief outline:

  • Sunday 29 June – informal gathering in the afternoon for early arrivals
  • Monday 30 June – First day of the Colloquy, at the Scott Polar Research Institute – theme “collaborating”. Includes a morning guest keynote speaker, and an afternoon tour of the museum and library at the Scott Polar.
  • Tuesday 1 July – Second day of the Colloquy, at the British Antarctic Survey – theme “communities”. Includes the afternoon poster session and – hopefully! – a film session.
  • Wednesday 2 July – Third day of the Colloquy, at the Scott Polar Research Institute – theme “communication”. The afternoon will include visits to other institutions in Cambridge, and the conference dinner will be held in the evening.
  • Thursday 3 July – Fourth day of the Colloquy, at the British Antarctic Survey – theme “collections”. Includes the Colloquy business meeting and the award of the William Mills Prize.
  • Friday 4 July – coach trip to London. We will be arranging visits to a number of institutions, some polar-oriented and some not. Return travel to Cambridge will be provided, but we expect some people will want to travel onwards from London.

We are still welcoming suggestions for posters – please do get in touch if you would like to submit one!

Registration and Booking

Registration is not yet open, as we are still finalising the exact ticket prices. A registration form should be posted before the end of the month. For information, we currently expect that the registration fees will be around £120-130 (US$200-220, or 145-160 Euro), which includes individual membership of the Colloquy as well as lunches during the conference. It will also include travel within Cambridge and to London on the Friday. We intend to offer a day rate, for the benefit of those who may wish to only attend a single day, tentatively priced at £35.

Accommodation can be booked separately – we have organised a block of rooms at Churchill College, priced at £59/night (reference code SPI21190), but you are of course welcome to make your own arrangements!

The conference dinner will also be priced separately, giving flexibility if you wish to opt out, or if you wish to buy an extra ticket for a partner travelling with you. A price for this will be announced later.

If you are interested in applying for the Hubert Wenger Award, which provides a scholarship to attend the Colloquy, please remember that the deadline to apply is 31 March.

Travel Advice

A number of visitors are already booking their travel arrangements and looking into how to get to Cambridge itself.

The easiest way to get here from overseas is via London, by rail from London Kings Cross (£35-45 return). There are connections to Kings Cross from both Heathrow airport (via the Underground, £5.70 return) and Gatwick airport (via St. Pancras, £19 return). If you are able to fly into Stansted airport (mostly regional/budget airlines), there is a direct train from there to Cambridge.

Call for papers

25th Polar Libraries Colloquy, 29th June-3rd July 2014
Connecting communities: collaborating, creating and communicating

First call for submission of proposals for papers and panel sessions for the 25th Polar Libraries Colloquy (PLC25) to be held 29th June-3rd July 2014 in Cambridge, UK.

The conference theme is Connecting communities: collaborating, creating and communicating. How do we connect with our audiences and with each other? Do we make the best use of available technologies to promote polar resources? How are polar collections put to creative uses, beyond standard research? How do we open up our collections to non-polar researchers and other interest groups? How can we work with non-polar libraries that have common interests and overlaps with our own collections? The Colloquy will feature a number of interesting keynote speakers, presentations and panels, and field trips to collections of interest in Cambridge and London.

PLC25 welcomes papers on all topics that apply to polar libraries or information.

For example:

  • How are you collaborating and working with other collections?
  • What outreach methods are you using to connect with non-polar collections? Why is this important to you?
  • What new methods (or even old methods) are you using to deliver new and exciting services to your users?
  • Have you changed the way in which you run your library and train your staff to meet the needs and challenges of a 21st century audience? How has this changed the dynamic of your library?
  • What new audiences are you working with and how are you attracting and building on these new user groups?
  • Are you using your collections for outreach and education? What new methods are you using to bring collections to new education-based audiences and how are you supporting this while maintaining your day-to-day work?
  • What new social media technologies are you using to bring your collection to remote users? What has been your best tool for doing this sort of work? What advice do you have for libraries looking to do the same on a small budget?

Possible ideas for panel sessions include:

  • Data and metadata curation
  • Collaborations and exchanges

Or suggest your own topic for a session!

Submissions are invited for papers, panel discussions, and posters.

Paper presentations should address recently conducted research or projects, or content that advances the field of polar libraries or information.  They are typically 20 minutes in length, followed by a 10-minute period for questions.

Panel discussions should focus on current topics; they are ordinarily an hour in length with three to five participants.

Poster presentations should address products or projects such as databases, web sites, or other information tools.

Your paper or panel discussion proposal should include:

  • Your name and email address
  • Co-authors or presenters (if applicable). Panel proposals should list a chair but do not need a complete list of panellists at this stage
  • Title
  • Abstract of no more than 500 words

Please note: Conference registration is required in order to present a paper. The PLC Steering Committee may be able to assist with some costs via the Wenger Award.

Timeline for paper or panel discussion proposals:

15 December 2013     Submissions deadline

17 January 2014         Acceptance notification

15 June 2014               PowerPoint and other visual presentations to be sent to conveners for loading on conference computers. Please ensure that these are Windows compatible.

Please submit all proposals to: library[at]spri[dot]cam[dot]ac[dot]uk with PLC25 in the subject line.

Proceedings of the conference will be published online.  Paper authors will be expected to submit a final version of their papers for publication within six weeks of the conclusion of the conference.

We look forward to your participation.
Heather Lane (SPRI)

Georgina Cronin (SPRI)

Andrew Gray (BAS)

 25th Polar Libraries Colloquy Planning Committee

The 25th Polar Libraries Colloquy theme is…

Connecting communities: collaborating, creating and communicating

The 25th Polar Libraries colloquy is  your colloquy. Tell us what you want to hear about, discuss, learn or experience during the 2014 Cambridge colloquy. We have a theme that encourage collaboration, creation and communication so let us know how we can make this colloquy one of the best yet for you as colloquy members!

We would like to invite non-members to this conference and to make new connections with non-polar libraries, so we would welcome suggestions, contacts and tips.

Please let us know if there are any specific topics that you would like to see included in the programme.

We will put out a call for papers on this theme and a schedule will be posted in due course. Please send a brief outline of what you wish to present to the Planning Committee by 31st December 2013. Further deadlines will be confirmed shortly.

Feel free to comment with your suggestions here or email us on: