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.

PLC 2018: Day 4, Morning Session

Blog Post by Shannon Christoffersen

Thursday morning began with the keynote session, “Arctic Service Design Research” by Professor Satu Miettinen. Professor Miettinen is a designer, but unlike many designers who work with products or spaces, she works with service experiences.  As she noted, users’ experience of quality of service can be affected by scent, sound, and vision. As such, service can be tailored and designed, even prototyped in storyboards or video clips. From the perspective of polar library service, it was fascinating to hear how we might work to design service provision for library users.

Ivar Stokkeland, speaking for Kjell-G. Kjaer who members may remember from the Rome PLC, presented on “Arctic Marine Mammal Products in 19th century European Industries, the development of the north Norwegian sealing fleet (1859-1909) and the ‘Kjell-G. Kjaer Historical Register of Arctic Vessels.’” The history of the sealing fleet was very interesting, but Colloquy participants were particularly interested in Kjaer’s database which is online at The database does not require a subscription and is available in English.

Laura Kissel presented next on “Thinking Outside of the (Hollinger) Box: Professional Writing for the Archives.” Laura asked if any of us knew what a Hollinger Box was or if that was a joke just for her. I confess that I did not know what a Hollinger box was — until I googled it. Although I have taken archive classes as a library student, I did not know that the gray, acid-free document boxes in archives were actually called Hollinger boxes. Now I know, and you do as well! Laura described a new Ohio State University course that involves matching students learning how to write proper grant proposals with real-world clients (in this case, the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre Archives). The students are given information on projects that require grant funding, research and identify potential funders, and write a grant proposal. The results of the student work may be used to submit actual grants. Given how often I have to write grant proposals in my job, as am sure many of us do, I strongly recommend we all try to convince our institutions to run this kind of course!

The morning coffee break featured excellent fruit smoothies that were very popular with participants. I worked through part of the break and only managed to get a spoonful into a cup — they went fast! From that one spoonful, I can confirm that the smoothies were delicious and it has prompted me to add lingonberry preserves to my IKEA shopping list when I return home.

The morning was bookended by a second keynote, “Human and Societal Security in the Arctic,” by Kamrul Hossain. Professor Hossain gave a comprehensive overview of security, explaining the traditional understanding of security as well as the more untraditional approach which broadens the term to include, for example, social, economic, and humanitarian security issues (eg food security). He also went into security theory and noted that it is not so much about identifying a threat as it is about understanding how a threat is constructed by society. Professor Hossain has written extensively on the subject and more about his work in Human Security can be found at his project website:




PLC 2018: Day 3, Excursions

Blog Post by Sandy Campbell

Wednesday was tour day at the Colloquy. We first took a 1.5 hour bus ride north into the heart of Lapland. At Sodankyla, we visited the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory. The main building at this site, at the time of construction, was the largest log house in Finland. This observatory has a 30 meter wide radio telescope which is used to collect many forms of natural data including information about the earth’s magnetic field, lightning strikes, and astrophysical data that allows the scientists to predict when there will be good northern lights.

After a coffee break, generously sponsored by EBSCO, we had a lecture at the Finnish Meteorological Institute at the same site. The meteorologists collect data from passing satellites, as well as from a local weather station. We saw a robot weather balloon launcher, which now launches most of the weather balloons. .

Lunch was at the Nesta restaurant on the site, where the meal of pasta and salad was completed with a caramel mousse.

Our second stop of the day, a short bus ride away, was the amethyst mine at Luosto. Participants learned about how amethyst was created and then had the opportunity to look for stones. The “mine” is a hillside of naturally shattered rock mixed with sand. Each participant was given a basket and a small rock hammer and began searching for amethysts. Many smaller amethysts were visible on the surface among the broken rocks. Larger pieces were covered by sand. After collecting a basket of likely pieces, each person went to a washing station, so see whether or not they had found amethyst. Everyone did and was able to take home a sample that could fit into the palm of their hand.
After another coffee sponsored by EBSCO, this time with donuts and traditional Finnish sweet buns called “butter eye buns”, we boarded the bus for the trip back to Rovaniemi.

PLC 2018: Day 2, Afternoon Sessions

Blog post by Shannon Christoffersen

The afternoon session on Day 2 began with the keynote presentation ‘Arctic Media, Arctic Journalism: Lessons learnt from Barents Mediasphere Project’ by
Head of science communications Markku Heikkilä, Arctic Centre. Of note, Heikkilä pointed out the difference between journalism ‘in the Arctic’ and ‘of the Arctic,’ explaining that media in the Arctic tends to be of regional interest and operated in local languages whereas media of the Arctic is more global, predominantly in English, and has limited relevance to people living in Arctic areas. Information about the Barents Mediasphere Project can be found at

Following the keynote, PLC participants were loaded on to a bus, ostensibly to visit the Arktikum. However, conference organizer Susannah Parikka, had a surprise for us all. In fact, we would be making a stop first to have our group photo taken…with Santa Claus! We drove just outside of Rovaniemi to Santa’s office at the Arctic Circle where we were met by some very cheerful elves. Santa was lovely and conversed with participants in English, Swedish, and French! He also wore some pretty amazing striped socks. As soon as our photo is available, I will be sure to post it for everyone!

Next up was the visit to Arktikum ( where we were greeted with hot coffee, tea, and a variety of sweet and savoury pastries. They clearly know the way to our hearts. PLC members love a good tea. We were taken on a short tour that included: diorama displays of Rovaniemi before and after the city was burned during the 1944 Lapland War between Finland and Nazi Germany; an exhibit explaining the different ways of defining the Arctic; and some ‘hot stuff’ – an exhibit on Arctic mating that included a content warning. Thankfully, the Colloquy members were able to handle this risqué material. After the tour, we were given time to explore the Arktikum on our own, finishing the day up in this beautiful building.


Photo courtesy of Shannon Christoffersen.

PLC 2018: Day 2, Morning Sessions

Blog Post by Shannon Christoffersen

I arrived at Colloquy a bit later than usual this morning, but thankfully just in time for the keynote presentation ‘Sustainable Art with the Arctic’ with the University of Lapland’s Timo Jokela. Professor Jokela explained the power of visual art in participatory action research, or as he terms it, Art-Based Action Research (ABAR). His slides of previous art-based community projects illustrated his points beautifully.  More information on his work can be found at and For those members attending Colloquy, Professor Jokela’s book, Relate North, is also available at the registration table. For those who are particularly interested in the arctic as a laboratory for sustainable art and cultural policy, there will also be a summit in Rovaniemi, June 4-5, 2019.

The second keynote of the morning was given by Leena Heinämäki, University of Lapland and Associate professor Thora Herrmann, University of Montreal, Canada. Entitled, ‘The Sacred Arctic: Safeguarding the Sacred Natural Sites of Indigenous Peoples’ as their Cultural Heritage,’ Professor Heinämäki gave a great overview explaining both the importance and challenges of protecting Indigenous sacred sites. The development of protocols for protection of these sites began at an international conference in Rovaniemi in 2013 ( At present, these sites have begun receiving protection through  the 2003 UNESCO convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Following this overview, Professor Herrmann discussed specific examples of biocultural community protocols (identifying, protecting, recognizing, and transmitting sacred sites) from Canada. Heinämäki And Herrmann have a book coming out shortly from Springer not his topic: Experiencing and Protecting Sacred Natural Sites of Sami and other Indigenous Peoples.

Following the keynotes, we moved into literary talks. Sandy Campbell, University of Alberta, presented on ‘Canadian Indigenous Children’s Books through the Lens of Truth and Reconciliation.’ Canada has been going through the process of truth and reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples, following the revelation of the atrocities that many Indigenous communities suffered through the enforced attendance of their children in residential schools, a process that has resulted in years of intergenerational trauma for the survivors. It can be quite difficult for non-survivors to understand truth and reconciliation, so the University of Alberta has put together a reading list of children’s books that help to explain various aspects of this process. The reading list is available here: For those members attending Colloquy, one of the books from the list, Mamaqtuq, is available for bidding in the auction. As a side note, I am a huge fan of the Jerry Cans, who wrote the song that the book is based on – you can hear more of their excellent music here:

‘Multilingualism and Diversity as a resource in the cultural field – Library work in the Sámi (language) literature field,’ presented by  Irene Piippola from the Sámi special Library in Finland, Rovaniemi City Library, was the final talk of the morning. Ms. Piippola gave an overview of the Sámi language, the availability of literature in the various Sámi dialects, and the ways in which Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia are providing library services (with varying degrees of accommodation) to this population. More information on this topic can be found in Ms. Piippola’s forthcoming book A Writing Hand Reaches Further: Recommendations for the improvement of the Sámi literary field. A searchable Sámi bibliography is also available online: You can learn more about the bibliography here:

Overall, a great morning with lots of useful information. I am looking forward to more fantastic sessions as Colloquy progresses – and possibly winning the auction for Mamaqtuq!