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!


PLC 2018: Day 1, Afternoon Sessions

Blog Post by Sandy Campbell

Participants had lunch at the Restaurant Felli, the cafeteria in the same building as our meeting hall. It is always fun to eat like the local people. There was an interesting dish of shredded chicken and “root vegetables”, which were mainly beets. Breads and buns in Finland are always remarkable. There are always various buns with poppyseeds, and a variety of rye breads, some very dark – all very good. Hard to resist.

After lunch we heard three presentations on portals, interfaces and engines designed to make access to polar information easier. Leif Longva (UIT – Tromso) updated us on developments with the High North Research Documents . Leif reminded us that the material in High North is harvested from the BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) metadata harvester He also pointed to the need for high-quality metadata to allow for harvesting by these systems and noted the relatively low numbers of Chinese and Russian documents being retrieved. Language differences and/or metadata quality may be factors in this retrieval rate.

Daria Carle (UAlaska – Anchorage) presented on Alaska’s Discovery Portal, a cooperative project involving 3 campuses sharing a catalogue. Daria also spoke about SLED: Statewide Library Electronic Doorway, which supplies an array of services ranging from historical and archival documents, databases site-licenced for all Alaskans and tutoring serices. Find SLED at

Shannon Christoffersen (AINA – UCalgary) brought us exciting news about the development of CCADI: Canadian Consortium of Arctic Data Interoperability. This consortium of 13 organizations is working to make Arctic data more accessible. In particular they are working towards goals around: a common interface for data, data interoperability, common vocabularies and data sharing standards.

Late afternoon of our first day was dedicated to the Poster session and some final presentations. Each of the four poster presenters briefly described their posters to the group and then answered questions at their poster. Peter Lund (Scott Polar) presented on making theses more available. Sue Olmstead (LAC Federal) spoke about the digitization of documents from the Antarctic Bibliography Microfiche Collection. Abdurhman Kelil Ali (UIT Tromso) described efforts to increase the amount of research data that is collected from professors, particularly those retiring, to be made available for secondary use. Marjatta Puustinen spoke about the research development at the Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

After the poster session, Bev Ager (British Antarctic Survey) presented on a variety of efforts to make the BAS Archives more open and accessible and some of the challenges in this process.

The afternoon was rounded out by a joint presentation from our busy hosts Susanna Parikka and Liisa Hallikainen, who took time out of their colloquy management duties to introduce us to LUC Library and LUC Arctic Centre Library.

Opening day of the conference has been full. We have all had a chance to catch up with our colleagues, be reminded of some of the great work that polar librarians are doing, and to learn about some new developments. Looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions.

PLC 2018: Day 1, Morning Sessions

Blog Post by Sandy Campbell

The 27th Polar Libraries Colloquy opened with coffee and sweet buns that are a Finnish delicacy, held in the beautiful foyer of the University of Lapland, Faculty of Art and Design. For those of us not able to attend the ice breaker last night, it was a first opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new friends.

Vice Rector Kaarina Maatta, Vice-Rector gave us a warm welcome to University of Lapland, which has as its motto, For the North, for the World.

Our opening keynote was by Director Timo Koivurova of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, who addressed the history of Arctic governance and Finland’s role as the Chair of the Arctic Council 2017 – 2019. Finland takes over from the United States. The lecture covered the history of Arctic governance and the changes to the Arctic Council over time, highlighting the role of Indigenous organizations and the growing numbers of observer delegations from non-Arctic countries. In spite of not being able to make legally-binding decisions, Arctic Council has considerable influence. Most recently (Novermber 2017) the Council’s “Declaration concerning the prevention of unregulated high seas fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean” (that area that is not within any country’s 200 mile limit) resulted in a 16 year moratorium on fishing.

For the second half of the morning presentations, it was great to see Joe Bouchard (McGill University) and Stefano Biondo (Universite Laval) again. Joe introduced us to a new web portal, Atiku Northern and Arctic Studies Portal. This is a collaboration of McGill, Laval and INRS Univesite de Recherche. The collection, which has been selected by the collaborating librarians includes: databases, reference works, archives, maps and geospatial data, statistics and video. This new portal can be found at

Stephano spoke about Story Maps, a product that allows for integration of text, images and other information into cartographic products. As a demonstration work, he showed us a Story Map of Franklin’s Coppermine expedition 1819 – 1922. Clicking on the medallions at specific locations allows the user to see high-resolution copies of engravings from Franklin’s published travel journal. I think many of us could see the potential for using this product and process to create interactive materials for many applications, including teaching materials.



PLC 2018: Icebreaker Event

Blog Post by Shelly Sommer

Coming directly from the airport, I slid into the icebreaker late and exhausted from travel. How welcoming it was to enter a beautiful old house, receive a registration packet and glass of wine simultaneously, fill a plate with local delicacies, and catch up with friends new and old. I heard about changes in the lives of people I met at my first Colloquy in 2004, and got to chat with some who were at a Colloquy for the first time.

The location of the icebreaker, Alaruokanen House, also gave us a good introduction to Rovaniemi. The house was built in 1860 and is now owned by the city. It is one of the very few older structures in town; the rest were burned during the Lapland War of 1944-45. Once the home of a wealthy family, it showcases the log construction and floor plan typical of the region and was furnished in historic colors and woven rag rugs that are still favorites here.

Starting the Colloquy by bringing us together as a community was a wonderful way to set the tone for the entire week.