PLC 2018: Day 5

Blog Post by Peter Lund

If you were to twist my arm and force me to take just one thing from this morning’s final day of the Polar Libraries Colloquy it would have to be the description of a metric described by Andrew Gray, formerly of the British Antarctic Survey, comparing the number of publications produced by a country on Antarctica with the number of beds in their Antarctic research stations. Chile and Russia are doing notably less science than their number of beds would suggest. Maybe they could collaborate by renting out some beds? Having a research station does not mean that science has been done and building a station is not enough. Following a policy change which was derived from the BAS research on publications, all Antarctic countries now need to produce some scientific papers.

But before we got to that, we had several other wonderful papers, kicking off with human-animal encounters in Arctic tourism by Jose-Carlos Garcia-Rosell and Mikko Äijälä. This paper reminded us that we tend to forget animals when we are considering tourism services. Tourists want to have encounters with animals; for instance whale watching has become very popular. Semi domestic animals like reindeer have become a symbol of the Arctic but we must remember reindeer are not social animals – they do not like to be petted. In Lapland 35 companies now offer tourism related to reindeer and 42 companies offer tourism relating to huskies so animal welfare is a growing concern. Little academic research is available on the welfare of Arctic animals but the presenters are aiming to change this using videography as a research tool. The need for this research has been established through a survey in which 68% of people visiting Rovaniemi airport considered animal based activities as an important reason to visit Lapland. Do huskies like to run? What is the dog thinking? The presenters are using the concept of agency to try to find out.

Next up were Professor Timothy Aarrevaara and Susanna Parikka discussing Arctic value for society (AVS). This is proposed as a way of providing a useful university ranking for Arctic universities which will not be based on prestige, reputation or citation indexes, since Arctic themes are hidden in Scopus and Web of Science. The University of Lapland understands its stakeholders and intends to use the AVS as a framework. It started in 2017. It will be low cost and requires only a low level of work in data collection but will lead to a ranking list of the Arctic Universities based on their value for society.

Then we moved on to more metrics as presented by Andrew Gray. The overall number of Polar science publications are increasing, with those being found in
open access megajournals such as PLOS rising fastest. It is interesting to note that
Arctic work is more highly cited than Antarctic work. Andrew introduced us to the concept of the national focus on the Arctic. Iceland scores well at 4-6% of its papers being on the Arctic despite being a small country. But the off the chart leader in this metric is Greenland with 85% of its’ research being on the Arctic. New Zealand is highest scoring in Antarctic research. China’s rate is increasing hugely and
Bulgaria is putting a surprisingly high amount of its National focus on Antarctic research.

Revitalised by coffee and macaroons we resumed with an excellent paper by Shelly Sommer giving us the lowdown on how librarians might use Altmetrics. Whilst H-Index and citation indexes will measure an author’s long term scholarly performance, altmetrics can be useful in demonstrating public engagement and can be particularly helpful for researchers in demonstrating their early impact e.g. to a tenure review board, before citations build up. Researchers are increasingly turning to social media and other alternative media to communicate their research outputs
so I look forward to investigating altmetrics further.

The penultimate paper came from Minna Abrahamsson-Sipponen, Library Director of the University of Oulu Library. Minna’s library have developed 4 positions devoted to bibliometric analysis. Such analysis has become a crucial part of the academic recruitment process. In concluding, Minna dared to look ahead to what type of expertise Libraries may need to thrive in the future mentioning avatar librarians and software architects.

It’s been a superbly organised PLC2018 with some fascinating speakers and before we wrapped up there was just time for Joe Bouchard and Stefano Biondo from the University Laval to give us a sneak peek of what we might expect from the next Colloquy to be held in Quebec City in 2020. It looks like it’ll be terrific. Bring it on.

PLC 2018: Day 4, Afternoon Session

Blog Post by Cecilie Møldrup

The afternoon sessions on day 4 began with a talk by local librarian Mari Ekman, from the Rovaniemi City Library. She was presenting a local project about crowd funding. The name of her talk was “Archives and libraries of the people, by the people, for the people.” Ekman’s speech was centred on the concept of niche sourcing. Niche sourcing is subgenres of crowd sourcing where you get experts or amateurs with special knowledge to help the library with certain collections.
By doing the project with a smaller group of more committed people, you get better quality and ensure the authority of the work and the institution.
She presented an interesting project they had done here at the Rovaniemi City Library with a collection of maps. The maps were very rare and of a small area called Petsamo. They were from the 1920s-1930s and had been forbidden by the Soviet Union. Now they were no longer forbidden and needed to be made available and usable online for researchers. The participants of this project were amateur historians and elderly professionals, who digitalized the maps. The Library was only the facilitator and did no quality control. See the result of the project in Finnish at:

Then the afternoon turned its focus to publishing and the dilemmas of Open Access publishing. First, a talk was given by Peter Lund from the Scott Polar Research Institute: “Where researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute are publishing and the implications of the associated Article processing charges(APCs) incurred.”
He started out by giving us an impression of the changing landscapes of publishing in general. He described how Open Access is dictated from many sides and he also mentioned the serials  crisis, where costs go up for subscriptions. Then the talk got more specific, as we were told the top 12 places where researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute publish. The journals in this top 12 were primarily Open Access or hybrid between subscription and Open Access. This, he concluded, drove the prizes of subscriptions up and the cost of APC is rising too. His final conclusion was that we need to have an institutional knowledge of the total costs of publishing Open Access.

After Peter’s presentation, the Lapland University Press did a presentation with many overlapping subjects. The talk was called “Northern non-profit book publisher within the global network,” given by Anne Koivula and Paula Kassinen. They told us that Lapland University Press is a small, non-profit academic publisher, established in 2005. Their publications are primarily in Finnish, but they also publish in English. The books they publish are mainly multidisciplinary. They said that everything is changing, everything is becoming open and free. This is good in many ways, but it presents a problem for the business model. Open Access is profitable for multinational companies, like Elsevier, but small publishers have a hard time keeping up. One way that small publishers could survive is if academic communities take steps to insure the integrity of the industry. This would mean that the academic communities take steps to ensure the integrity of peer-review and open science, open data, and open research. Open access publications have major benefits for small academic publishers through visibility, discoverability and global distribution, but no clear business model has presented itself yet.

The last presentation was by Scott Forest from University of the Arctic, also known as UArctic. UArctic is a network association of university members and others, such as PLC. UArctic works on bringing people together from the Arctic region to share knowledge. Its primary focus is collaborations and powerful networks. UArctic has 200+ member institutions and persons, an exchange program called North2north, a study catalogue, and 45+ thematic networks. The theme of the talk was the challenges of showing impact. UArctic facilitates networks, but they don’t produce concrete results and, if they do, it is hard to connect the results to UArctic. They are working on having more measurable results right now. There will be a UArctic Congress Sept.3-7 at Oulu and Helsinki. Read more at:

We ended the day with the PLC Business Meeting. It began with the announcement of the William Mills Prize winner. The committee was not present, but they sent a statement. There were 26 nominations and the winner is the book (and associated Smithsonian exhibition) Narwhal, revealing an Arctic legend. The committee noted that the book was very comprehensive and extensive.

We also added three members as Honorary Members of the PLC. Shannon Christoffersen nominated Ross Goodwin,  Sandy Campbell and Daria Carle nominated Ron Inouye, and Laura Kissel nominated Julia Finn. All the nominees are now honorary members.

Peter Lund took over as Chair for Shannon Christoffersen, who is now Past-Chair. Andrew Gray and Laura Kissel remain in their positions of Treasurer and Secretary, respectively. Susanna Parikka is our new Chair-Elect All Ex-Officio positions are maintained with the addition of Stefano Biondo and Joe Bouchard as the new PLC 2020 hosts. We also have two new Members At-Large: myself, Cecilie Møldrup, and Bolethe Olsen, joining Shelly Sommer and Liisa Hallikainen.

It was also announced that Quebec City is the PLC 2020 location. Other formalities were taken care of during the meeting, but you can read more about that in the secretary’s notes.

We ended the day at a beautiful three-course dinner at a private island where we also had this year’s auction.