15 June 2012

PLC Day 4

This is the last formal day of the Colloquy.


The day opened with Hilary Shibata presenting Heather Lane's session on models for engaging the PLC with the European Union Arctic Information Centre initiative.  Scott Polar Institute has been invited to be the lead for EUAIC library initiatives.  Healther suggested that because EUAIC is meant to be a large network of existing Arctic information nodes, it makes sense to involved PLC as an already existing network node.

Next, Vibeke Sloth Jacobsen (Polar Library, Copenhagen) asked us to consider whether or not there is a future for specialized libraries.  There was a lively discussion, with several participants speaking to the importance of speciallized collections and embedded librarians, who can supply detailed service to specific subjects.

Liisa Hallikainen (Arctic Centre Library) also spoke about the EUAIC and the directions of EU policy related to the Arctic.  A group of 17 European polar libraries are currently part of the network that will form EUAIC. 

Flora Grabowska (Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks) reviewed developments at her library which have allowed the Library to pay some author fees for scientists publishing in open access journals. 

Elaine Maloney demonstrated the Canadian Circumpolar Institute's open-access collections housed in the University of Alberta's institutional repository, ERA.  Materials, including a growing photograph collection, are available for use by anyone for non-commercial purposes.

Silent Auction
There was fierce competitive bidding for the array of things in the silent auction.  Bidders bought books, jewelry, clothing, foods and remarkable items such as temporary tattoos from Greenland.  All funds support the Wenger Award.


The Business Meeting was chaired by Secretary, Laura Kissel, standing in for Chair, Pierre Beaudreau.  Minutes will be published in the next Bulletin.  Highlights included:  Shelly Sommer stepping into Chair-elect, David Walton resigning as Treasurer and being replaced by Jo Milton.
PLC2014 will be in Cambridge, jointly hosted by British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Research Institute.
PLC2018 will be held in Rovaniemi, Finland.

At the end of the Business Meeting, Wenger Award recipient, Lisa Adamo expressed her appreciation for the award and for the welcome by the Colloquy members.

Ron Inouye eloquently reviewed the proceedings of the Colloquy, tying the logo and title of the Colloquy to various papers and images that we've shared over these four days.

The afternoon was topped off by Leilani Henry's engaging presentation, "We Are All Antarctica".  Henry's father, George W. Gibbs Jr., was a member of Admiral Byrd's third expedition to the South Pole and was the first man of colour to set foot on Antarctica.  Using photographs, images of her father's journals and several objects related to the expedition, Henry shared not only the history of her father's journey, but also her own journey of discovery about her father's early life and adventure.


The banquet was held at the Red Lion Restaurant in Boulder Canyon. The restaurant is set alongside the river, with beautiful gardens.  The meal was sumptuous.  Door prizes and raffle prizes were drawn, with one of the favorites being the "Solar Queen", who will be renamed the "Polar Queen".
The evening concluded with a performance by Pick Up Sticks Marimba band.  Sixteen month-old Paul, son of Marcel and Katrin, was the star of the dance floor, entertaining everyone with his moves. 
At the end of the set, the band held a "petting zoo", teaching a number of volunteers to play a tune together.   And a good time was had by all.

Sandy Campbell

13 June 2012

Day 3, 13 June

Another sunny and hot day in Boulder.

The first item on todays agenda was the presentation of the William Mills Prize for Non Fiction Polar Books for 2012. The prize this year went to Jerry Kobalenko for his book Arctic Eden : journeys through the changing high Arctic. The committee will be posting some more information about the winner and  the other candidates on the blog shortly.

Today's sessions began with Allaina Wallace from ROCS/NSIDC  telling us about the importance of making emergency plans for events like flooding or fire. Their library had experienced a water leak in 2009 and had afterwards made plans of what to do. Covering shelves with plastic, knowing what to save first, who to call, and having the information available in a simple and accesible form were some of the important issues.
Erin Palmer from the NWT Geoscience Office told us about the status of the informations services in northern Canada. She went through the libraries and archives in Northwest Territories, Yukon,  and Nunavut, and told us about the issues the struggle with, the programmes they are involved with, and the successes they have experienced.

Lisa Adamo from US Geological Survey told us about the Antarctic ressources that have been moved from the US Antarctic Resource Center to the USGS library. The material consist of aerial photographs, satellite images, and technical reports. A lot of it is not indexed, but the plan is to get it recorded, integrated in the library, and make it accessible on a website.

Ross Goodwin informed us of the status of the IPY publications database, which is a project which several polar institutions are involved in. It is estimated that app. 20.000 publications would be the outcome of IPY 2007/08. The database contains publications from all 4 IPYs. So far 5.503 titles has been included, of these 2.890 titles are from the 2007/08 IPY. The reason so few publications have been registered. It is available on www.nisc.com/ipy. The Arctic and Antarctic Regions database does not contain the IPY records created after June 2009. Lack of funding for the CRBP has affected input to the database. It is believed that work will continue on the project for at least the next 10 years.

Liz Schlagel from NSIDC informed us of the DAHLI project which stands for Discovery and Access of Historical Literature from the IPYs. The project collects and catalogues world wide holdings of IPY data from the four IPYs, and the database is hosted in the ROCS library. As archival management system ARCHON has been chosen.

After lunch there was a change in programme as Chris Jenkins from INSTAAR was not able to attend. Instead we watched a film called Good days on the trail from 1938-1942 with the University of Colorado Department of Mountain Recreation.

After that G. Garrett Campbell told us about recovering satellite films from the 1960ies. Data was stored on films at that time. The project is to digitize 100.000 images and attach metadata to them. Once the project is completed they will be made accessible on a website.

The the traditional group photo was taken, and the afternoon ended with another film showing. IGY Station Alpha about the American ice drifting station in the Arctic Sea in 1957-58.

Vibeke Sloth Jakobsen

Day 2 - PLC 24

Day 2 of the Colloquy featured a panel discussion, a poster session, and a tour rather than regular sessions.

AAR panel: Moving forward

The day began with a panel discussion about the Arctic and Antarctic Regions database. Sharon Tahirkheli (AGI) chaired the discussion with panelists Martha Andrews (INSTAAR retired), Ross Goodwin (AINA), and Craig Brandt (EBSCO Senior Director, Product Management). The discussion focused on how we can get past the stalled process that means new records from contributors like SPRI and ASTIS have not been added to AAR.

Sharon gave an account of funding cuts, personnel changes, and what has happened between EBSCO and AAR participants over the last few years. Martha reviewed the history of AAR: why it was begun within PLC, who was involved, and how the records were handled and became a CD-ROM subscription product from NISC. In 2009 EBSCO bought AAR and converted it to an online database as part of its suite of products.

Craig Brandt expressed a desire for better communication with the PLC user group and came as a product developer (rather than sending a sales representative) to aid direct, useful conversations. He presented some information on how EBSCO's processes work and listed their concerns. The NISC version of AAR was designed to ingest records from 9 different organizations, each with different controlled vocabularies and formats. EBSCO can really only build one ingest tool for each database. They were stymied by how to de-dup records and standardize the controlled vocabularies used by various contributors. They identified a number of journals with polar content, and added cover-to-cover records from those journals. In retrospect that added a large number of records that had nothing to do with polar subjects to the database, diluting the quality of search results.

Discussion revolved around how we can move forward from here, building a smooth pipeline for contributors' records into AAR and increasing the quality of the database. EBSCO was already aware of the problem of irrelevant content and Craig relayed that many of the records about tropical and temperate environments will be removed. Only 3-4 of the organizations that originally contributed records to AAR are still adding to their bibliographies, which reduces the number of players to worry about. PLC members agreed that duplicate records were not a major problem for us or our users, which removes one of EBSCO's concerns. EBSCO will convert records to their own, less specific controlled vocabulary, but can maintain contributors' vocabularies in a different field as well so that they can still be used in search. Overall, we came out with a workable approach to renewing the database. I for one am looking forward to renewing my library's AAR subscription that I let lapse a couple of years ago.  

Poster session

After a break, a poster session gave us glimpses into many interesting projects. Sandy Campbell (coauthors Kim Frail, Debbie Feisst, and Robert Desmarais) showed us the Deakin Review of Children's Literature, a quarterly review of quality children's books that The University of Alberta Libraries just took over last year. Kathy Murray's "Health Aspects of Arctic Exploration" portrayed the research materials of Robert Fortuine, donated to the University of Anchorage libraries in 2006. Nancy Gonzales of DRPA Canada talked about her poster "Northwest Territories Geoscience Office Online Business Applications." Hilary Shibata of SPRI presented "The Scott Centenary Bibliography Project: Adapting Old Records to New Standards of Accessibility," that she coauthored with the absent Heather Lane. Ross Goodwin of AINA displayed the various flavors of ASTIS on "The Arctic Science and Technology Information System (ASTIS): Canada's National Northern Database." And Heidi McCann (coauthors Chris McNeave, Mark Parsons, Shari Gearheard, Henry Huntington, and Peter Pulsifer, all of National Snow and Ice Data Center) displayed a poster on the project she spoke on during Day 1, "Archiving Local and Traditional Knowledge of the Arctic."

NICL tour

After lunch we piled into a bus and headed down Highway 93 to the National Ice Core Lab, part of the U.S. Geological Survey facility in Denver's Federal Center. Geoff Hargreaves, NICL Curator, showed us a drill and told us how ice is cored and what the cores tell us about the climate and environment of past eras. We peppered him with questions. By the end of the tour we had learned how the cores are transported to the lab, how they are processed in the lab, where the cores come from, where other core facilities are located around the world (lots of help from the crowd on that one), the characteristics of ice from various depths, dealing with pressure and temperature changes, what analyses are run on the cores, where the data goes, what metadata is kept about each core, and many other topics. Geoff used FileMaker 1 to store information about the cores when they first set up the lab, and they are still using it (now in version 11). Thank you Geoff for your gracious indefatigability!

 We filed past the windows of the lab, watching an energetic group of scientists and grad students process sections of core in a kind of assembly line (disassembly line?). The work room is kept colder than negative 30 degrees C, so that ice dust created by sawing the cores into pieces doesn't melt into water droplets. People working in the lab wear insulated suits, with latex gloves over their insulated gloves to reduce contamination of the ice. Geoff changes the blades on the saws every day during work sessions.

Then we assembled for the highlight of the tour: Geoff slid back a big insulated door and let us into the storage area of the lab, kept at a cozy negative 40 degrees. We filed into the aisles, where the silver cylinders holding core pieces are stacked on shelves reaching high overhead. We saw cores from sites in Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, among others. Berit thought the lab felt fairly comfortable, but the rest of us were shivering and exclaiming at the cold.

Back on the bus and to Boulder!

11 June 2012

Hello from sunny Boulder.  It's great to both meet new friends and see old friends again, such as retired members Martha Andrews and Ron Inouye! This year's colloquy has people from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Finland and Japan. We've already been enjoying the local eateries and brew pubs (of course), and the scenic environment at the base of the ColoRockies!

Day 1 of the Colloquy has been packed with sessions and information.  Many of us are staying at the Boulder Inn, which is about a 20 minute walk from the building where  we are meeting, so Shelly Sommer guided us on a morning stroll through the University of Colorado campus to the venue. 

UColorado is much bigger than I had imagined it.  Many of the buildings are new, but have been built of stone from the same quarry as the older buildings, so the whole campus is very attractive, with red rock and big trees. 

The Colloquy sessions began with James White, Director of INSTAAR giving an easily understood explanation of global climate change as his keynote address. One of the highlights of his address was having Shelly stand on a chair and threatening to push her off.  The purpose was to demonstrate was that as surely as we know that she would fall, the laws of physics also tell us that sea level will rise as the ice melts.

Sandy Campbell followed with an update on the UArctic Digital Library.  This project is moving along, with Sandy and Elaine Maloney having a 6:00 a.m. conference call with the UArctic Virtual Learning Tools team this morning.  The good news is that University of Tromso Library has received permission to apply for funding to support work on the UArctic Digital Library project.

Susanna Parikka of the University of Lapland spoke about the Lapland University Consortium which encompasses five libraries, including the Arctic Center Library.  The consortium serves about 11,000 students and undertook a project to deliver materials to remote users by truck.

Lunch was at the amazing Center for Community (C4C), where our swipe cards admitted us to a series of all-you-can-eat buffets offering pasta, sushi, hamburgers, Oriental and Middle-Eastern foods, as well as sandwich and salad and dessert bars.  We're all going to have to hike or we'll gain weight over the next three days.

After lunch, Yoriko Hayakawa of the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research Library Research Organization of Information and Systems described the network of organizations around the Library.  Parts of the network are consortial buying groups which allow the Library to purchase journals.  NIPR has more "other language" books and journals than it does Japanese language materials. 

Marcel Brannemann introduced AWI's discovery service "Eisberg", which provides one-stop access to many resources, including AWI's repository of works created by AWI scientists on the summon platform.. Check it out at awi.summon.serialssolutions.com  He also demonstrated the iphone app.

Alison Hicks of University of Colorado described her work with bookmarking, individual blogs and reflective work as part of an information literacy program for Antarctic Studies students at Colorado State University.  Alison's goal is to move students from being "information consumers" to "information participants".

Sharon Rankin (McGill) gave us an overview of the work that was done between 2008-2011 on making the stories of Nunavik's people available.  Several works of fiction have been published or republished and Sharon has created a bibliography.  Those with sharp eyes will have spotted a copy of it on the Silent Auction Table.

Heidi McCann and Julia Collins described ELOKA--the Exchange of Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic. This project has collected oral history information from people in a variety of sites around the Circumpolar Region, including Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia.

Sandy Campbell finished the day with a description of the challenges involved in creating a search filter to identify Canadian Indigenous materials in Medline.  MESH headings for both Indigenous People and Canadian geographic terms are inadquate, so a detailed keyword filter must be developed. 

The Silent Auction table is full and overflowing with interesting things from all across the Circumpolar Region. Instead of an outcry auction this year, the reserved items will be raffled. One of the raffle prizes will be the figurine of the "Jubilee" Queen Elizabeth, whose purse contains a solar cell that powers her waving hand (donated by Hilary Shibata of SPRI). 

01 June 2012

24th Colloquy coming up quickly

In just over a week, many of us will convene in Boulder, Colorado for the Colloquy June 11-14.  A few notes:

First, there is still time to register if you haven't already.

The program is set and features a variety of outstanding sessions on creative approaches to services, library structures and practices, "trials by fire," and new developments in data and databases.

We will address the future of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions database as a community during a panel and open discusssion. 

The opening keynote is by Jim White, Director of INSTAAR, ice core expert, and an eminent climatologist playing a major role in our understanding of abrupt climate change.  Our closing speaker is Leilani Henry, daughter of the first African-American to set foot on Antarctica and an inveterate storyteller.

For those coming to Boulder, don't forget to pack:
  • Your auction items!
  • Sunscreen and a light jacket, just in case.
  • Any presentation slides - you can email to library@nsidc.org next week.
We can't wait to say hello at the Icebreaker Sunday evening in the Aspen Leaf Room at the conference hotel from 7:00-8:30 p.m.  Stop by to meet friends, pick up registration packets, and have some light refreshments.

For those unable to make it, participants will add to this blog each day from the Colloquy.  Stay tuned for notes about sessions and takeaway messages.

All the best,
  Shelly, Allaina, and Gloria (your Boulder hosts)