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Danish Polar Center Publication No. 10, 2002

Poles apart - poles on-line.
Proceedings of the 19th Polar Libraries Colloquy, 17-21 June 2002, Copenhagen

Edited by Kirsten Caning and Vibeke Sloth Jakobsen

Danish Polar Center Publications No. 10, 2002.
179 pages. Price: 200 DKK. Download the entire publication as .pdf (8,1 Mb)
Download cover as .pdf (788 Kb)

by Vibeke Sloth Jakobsen
Chair of the Organizing Committee

The 19th Polar Libraries Colloquy was held in Copenhagen 17-21 June 2002, in Gammel Dok, a renovated storehouse on the harbour front. 59 participants from 15 different countries attended the conference.

The theme of the conference was Poles apart – poles on-line, and 32 papers were presented during the four days of sessions.

From Alaska to Lapland, we heard about co-operation projects ranging from digitizing historic archives, creation of virtual libraries, to libraries actually merging their collections. Certainly not always easy tasks, a lot of hard work, patience, and dedication are required. Concerns about loss of information due to retirement as well as due to language barriers were raised. Many new databases were presented to the audience in a variety of subjects from health issues to Jesuit diaries.

The issue of library users not physically using the library facilities raises concern. Electronic information changes the behaviour of the users and questions the need for reader space. Will smaller libraries face the threat of closing down, or will we see more libraries providing distance services like in Finland.

Quite a number of libraries have started digitizing picture collections over the last couple of years. We can now find historical as well as recent photos from both the Arctic and the Antarctic on the web.

Library resources and the prospects for collections in Alaska and Greenland were presented. Polar literature was viewed from new perspectives. Concerns about the future of polar publishing were raised.

A session on international co-operation showed us how important it is to establish contacts across borders and what excellent projects these contacts may result in.

Even though a lot of information is available electronically now, we should not forget that it only comprises a small portion of the entire human knowledge. Many important historical resources are still located in old fashioned ways in libraries and archives.

2 discussions were conducted during the colloquy, one on information loss, and one on polar publishing issues.

3 posters were presented on the subjects of polar climate resources, Japanese polar research organizations, and Antarctic data management.

All these presentations show us, that even though members of PLC are spread out over a vast geographic area, we seem to be facing the same type of problems and to be engaged in very similar types of projects for the future.

A mid-week break included a field trip to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, where two enthusiastic employees guided us through the collections and told us about the excavation and preservation of the ships. The remainder of the day was spent in Esrum where lunch was served at the organic café of the Nature Centre, followed by a walk through the country side and a visit to the Esrum Abbey.

During the week there were opportunities to join tours to the Danish Polar Center, the Royal Library’s Department of Maps, Prints and Photographs, and the National Museum’s Ethnographic Collection.

The success of the colloquy depended on sufficient funding, a lot of hard work from the organizing committee, and most important of all enthusiastic and committed participants. We were lucky to have all of those.

We received gracious funding from the IFLA´97 fund, NordInfo, and Polar Libraries Colloquy. Our bookseller Arnold Busck provided us with the conference folders.

The organizing committee at the Danish Polar Center consisted of Kirsten Caning, Kirsten Eriksen, Henning Thing, and Vibeke Sloth Jakobsen. Several other staff members contributed in various fields.

We wish to thank Henrik Dupont and the staff members of the Royal Library’s Department of Maps, Prints and Photographs for taking the time to show us pieces from their magnificent collection. We also would like to thank Anne Bahnson and her assistants for guiding us through the very interesting collection of Eskimo artefacts at the National Museum’s Ethnographic Collection.