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.


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