Saturday, 9 April 2011

British Antarctic Survey (CLG BAS XYZ)

The Cambridge Library Group hosted a talk at the British Antarctic Survey on Tuesday delivered by the Archives Manager, Ellen Bazeley White.

Ellen gave us an outline of BAS and the types of work undertaken, science researched and type of presence in the Antarctic.  She included many pictures from the archive in her presentation and the audience did not hold back in asking for explanations of their subjects, which ranged from the new Halley 6 base on an ice shelf to sonogram results on rolls of paper that resembled cigars.

From the BAS picture store
 The archive covers a wide range of material and subject matter and the archivists have to deal with papers, maps, reports, photographs, scientific data, films...the list goes on.  The archive collects anything that is related to BAS and to the staff therein.  It is this that separates BAS from the Scott Polar library and archives since the latter is a general polar library whole BAS only focuses on what has been produced by its own institution and members.  This results in a close working relationship between the institution with BAS offering a complimentary service to the Scott Polar.

We were given a detailed demonstration of the archival catalogue and I was very impressed by the sheer depth of description and detail that went into every item.  This makes the searching of the catalogue much quicker and straightforward for the user - the aim of every information professional!  During cataloguing the archivists work hard to preserve the provenance of the items, which can be difficult especially when we consider that inter-disciplinary subjects are become more and more popular!

From the BAS picture store
 There are on average 350 enquiries a year and 50 days a year are spent with enquirers in the archive.  These users and enquirers can be anything from individuals and ex-staff to artists and historians to publishers and people enquiring after copyright issues.

It was great to get an insight not only into archives in general but also into this fascinating institution which, I have to admit, I didn't really know about until the talk!!

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