Circum Polar Librarians: Serving the Entire Top of the Globe, Arctic Centre Librarians Dissolve Political Boundaries While Working to Save the Region's Resources

By Duling, Sandy | American Libraries, February 2006 | Go to article overview

Circum Polar Librarians: Serving the Entire Top of the Globe, Arctic Centre Librarians Dissolve Political Boundaries While Working to Save the Region's Resources


Duling, Sandy, American Libraries


Last week they researched the difference between Russian and American oil pipelines. Tomorrow they'll fact-check a journalist's story about arctic warming, or update the database of cell-phone towers in western Siberia. They deliver climate-change data to NASA, compile customs regulations, and negotiate the acquisition of Russian documents. And always, they're on the lookout for new international projects to get involved in.

These are the librarians at the Arctic Centre Information Service in Rovaniemi, Finland. In a quiet corner of Lapland, they're organizing and disseminating the information they hope will preserve arctic resources and culture. They're dissolving political boundaries in ways that might serve as a model for all, and their high-tech approach is a lesson in efficiency. With typical Finnish skill and grace, they're redefining what it means to be a librarian.

The Arctic Centre--a partner with the University of Lapland--is an international research center, museum, and library. Its architecturally striking home, called the Arktikum, is carved into the banks of the Ounasjoki River, around the corner from the world's northernmost McDonald's and just a short hike from the Arctic Circle.

If you need to study the arctic, this is the place to be. When Sverre Pedersen, research biologist for the state of Alaska, was looking for a place to learn about environmental impact assessment and oil drilling in the arctic, he turned to the Arctic Centre. Planning to spend a Fulbright semester in 2006 there, Pedersen says, "I'm hoping that by working with those folks for a few months I'll be able to draw on their experiences sufficiently to help shape our efforts in promoting sustainable development on Alaska's North Slope."

Although there are several areas of research at the Arctic Centre, the work on global climate change attracts the most international attention. It takes on new urgency as data confirms the surprising rate at which the arctic is warming: Arctic research is the canary in the mineshaft.

A small group of permanent researchers here coordinates the work of other researchers around the globe. Recent projects include mapping reindeer pastures using a combination of traditional ecological knowledge and remote sensing, ice core analysis to extract past climate information, and studying the roles indigenous peoples play in international politics. Supporting all this work--answering questions, gathering information, creating databases--are the Arctic Centre librarians.

Serving every time zone

What does it mean to be a librarian at the Arctic Centre? Most visibly, they're museum librarians. The Arktikum's physical library is small, but it attracts about half of the museum's 80,000 yearly visitors. People might have questions about salmon in northern rivers or they might ask about the burning of Lapland during World War II. Librarians also work closely with museum exhibit builders.

But museum work is just one part of the job. Reference librarians Liisa Hallikainen and Mikko Hyotyniemi serve the entire top of the globe--all 360 degrees of longitude, in every time zone. E-mail has made them available to every researcher with an internet connection. Where are the monasteries in northwest Russia? What are the nutritional properties of garden angelica, used by the Saami people--a group of indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia--for treating the plague? How about predicting the occurrence of northern lights?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The digital age has changed the nature, as well as the scope, of what they do. Libraries have traditionally collected information, with dissemination of that information just a sideline. That's changing at the Arctic Centre. Experts suggest the only way sustainable development will succeed is if the scientific and political realms come together. Librarians at the Centre are doing their best to make that happen. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Circum Polar Librarians: Serving the Entire Top of the Globe, Arctic Centre Librarians Dissolve Political Boundaries While Working to Save the Region's Resources
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.