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									Report on 18th annual meeting, hosted by the Realfagsbiblioteket, Naturhistorisk museum
(Science Library, Natural History Museum, part of the University of Oslo Library)
Oslo, Norway
18-21 May 2011

The meeting was held in the Auditorium in the Botanical Museum, within the Botanic
Gardens and opened with a welcome from our hosts Wenche Hafsahl Johansen, Librarian in
the Natural History Museum library, and Live Rasmussen, Head of the Science Library.
Introductions and updates from members followed. Common themes emerged: budget cuts,
mergers, moving and change.

The programme got underway with a talk from Finn Ervik, Researcher in the NHM, on the
proposed new exhibition glass-house for the Botanic Garden; despite modifications from the
original scheme, the plans were very exciting. The goal is to have the new glass-house in
2014, the 200th anniversary of the founding of the garden. [Document to be added.]

Next, Live Rasmussen gave a talk on the new Science Library; the main science library is
located on the Blindern campus but the Science Library as an entity is comprised of several
disparate libraries, including that of the Natural History Museum. Live described how she
and her staff had already opened 2 of the 3 new libraries (in a timescale of 18 months), with
the main Science Library still to open. The project has been 10 years in the planning and is
being realised now.

Although still a serious science library, the project has allowed the library to develop new
roles, eg as a venue for children’s events and events for the general public. University staff
are invited to give lectures about their work, both for colleagues and the public. This
programme has been called Science Debate. The Library uses its website, Facebook,
Twitter and fliers to publicise these events.

Library staff are now teaching students; integrated courses are customised according to the
student’s needs but information skills are key. The concept of IMRAD (Introduction,
Methods, Results and Discussion) informs the teaching, tying in with EU policy on
information literacy.

The library is using technology, such as “clickers” (hand-held devices) to get feedback on its
services, and eReaders (such as iPads) to promote e-books and other e-resources and the
e-curriculum. The Library is even lending eReaders and iPads to students to assess how
they are being used. This is very popular and gets the Library lots of publicity.

After lunch, we visited the library of the Natural History Museum, where we were given a tour
by Gro Synnoeve Lindgaard.

Back in the Auditorium, Anne-Mette Vibe gave a talk on digitisation in Norwegian libraries.
The Norwegian National Library began its digitisation programme very soon after Google,
one of the earliest libraries to react. After February 2010, the works of the geologist and
mineralogist Waldemar Christofer Brøgger came out of copyright and the National Library
has used digitised versions of these to publicise its digitisation programme.

Roger Mills delivered the next talk: Martinus van Marum (1750-1837) as a botanist/gardener
and his main botanical correspondents. This talk was to have been given by Marijn van
Hoorn but he was unfortunately unable to attend owing to illness. [Document to be added.]

Martin Nickol gave the next talk: The botanical gardens at Kiel and the development of
garden culture (and garden literature) in North Germany and the Nordic countries from the
17th century. The gardens at Kiel were founded in 1669 by Christian Albrecht, a son-in-law of
King Frederick III of Denmark (and therefore also Norway); at that time gardens were seen
as a status symbol. A hortus botanicus and a hortus medicus were both founded in 1669.
The gardens moved 4 times and were at different times in the ownership of 4 different
empires: Russia, Denmark, Austria and Prussia.

Christian Albrecht was probably assisted, directly or indirectly, by the expertise of Adam
Olearius (1599–1671), a scholar, mathematician, geographer and librarian. He was
secretary to the ambassador sent by Christian Albrecht’s father, Frederick III, Duke of
Holstein-Gottorp, to the Shah of Persia. On his return, Olearius became librarian to Frederick
III, who also made him keeper of his cabinet of curiosities; under his care, the Gottorp library
and cabinet were greatly enriched in manuscripts, books, and oriental and other works of art.

Martin then ran through a chronology of the development of Kiel Botanical Gardens and a list
of important works by persons associated with the gardens.

The final talk of the day was given by Brent Elliott: The concept of an Arctic flora. [Document
to be added.]

The conference dinner took place in the University Library, which is at the Blindern Campus.
A tour was provided beforehand for those who wished it. Drinks preceded the dinner, which
was delicious.

The second day’s programme began with the EBHL business meeting (see separate report).

Roger Mills then delivered his own paper: Democratisation of information: continuity of
service in botanical and horticultural libraries. [Document to be added.]

Roger’s talk led on to the members’ exchange sessions, where the following themes were
offered for discussion:

Staff: As specialised subject librarians are becoming an endangered species, how do we
ensure continuity of professional expertise in the management of our collections?

Outputs of discussion:

      (NB Staff here have been interpreted as users.)
      Difficult to address this – some staff still coming in to the library, others not.
      Challenge to get staff to know what we have in the library, what services we provide;
       promotion.
      At Meise, staff are using the catalogue to identify a resource which they access
       elsewhere!

Buildings: Should all our collections be available to anyone? Can we share buildings? Or
when ‘everything is digitised’ should we put the originals into secure remote storage and
deliver materials for consultation only on demand?

Outputs of discussion:

      Secure, environmentally appropriate storage.
      Expensive, difficult to access.
      Access for children? Children are tomorrow’s researchers.
      Should public libraries and university libraries be in same space?
      New buildings could cater for different groups of users.
      New service models – eg lend library books to local cafes to promote the library –
       and help local businesses.

Technology: Potentially, the contents of all the world’s botanical collections could one day
be accessible digitally on a hand-held device in the field. How does this change the concept
and use of a library – and librarians?

Outputs of discussion:

      Satellite coverage works: access from anywhere.
      Hand-held devices display web pages differently – but let’s not worry too much about
       that. It is more important to get stuff out there.
      Unseen global audiences – how to meet their needs?
      The old conundrum – the better libraries provide services and the more seamless
       those services appear, the less there is a perceived need for libraries. So:
      BRAND EVERYTHING!

Language: Latin may be the lingua franca of botany, but English is the lingua franca of the
internet. What are the implications for the use of non-English material, and for services in
non-English speaking countries?

Outputs of discussion:

      Rise of Chinese language output but English speakers will not change their
       behaviour until forced into it.
      Europe-wide joint projects: problems of being multi-lingual eg Cyrillic characters and
       transliteration/transcription. Europeana is multi-lingual but has BHL Europe (for
       instance) addressed this?
      If meta-data is written in English, this will make non-English language websites more
       discoverable (easier for Google and others to index).
      Users who are not in the library cannot browse so meta-data becomes very important
       – is there an educational role here for libraries?
      Google Scholar is mining many languages and sites.

The sessions were enjoyed by everyone but inevitably, we ran out of time towards the end –
perhaps do things differently next year?

The discussions marked the end of that part of the meeting programme. In the afternoon ,
we were given a tour of the Botanic Garden by Professor Brita Stedje. The garden is famous
for its rock garden, which was filled with many alpine species, but it also contains some
lovely long-established examples of trees, including the handkerchief tree, Davidia
involucrata, which we saw in its glory.

Other highlights of the meeting were the dinner on the Wednesday evening which Wenche
had very kindly arranged for us at the recently completed Opera House. The restaurant, the
Sanguine Brasserie, would normally have had a fantastic view right on the water-front. Alas
for us, the weather was very cloudy and wet but the meal was still superb and a great start to
the meeting.

On Saturday morning, a group of 12 of us visited Bogstad Manor and Garden on the
outskirts of Oslo; the estate dates from 1649. It was owned by the same family until 1955
when it was handed over to public ownership. The house is decorated in a mid 18th-mid 19th
century style and remains today as the family would have known it. The grounds are
reminiscent of the English landscape style.
In the afternoon, we went to the Holmenkollen ski-jump and ski museum; this is the most
visited tourist attraction in Norway. It is easy to see why. The ski-jump is one of the most
impressive structures I have ever seen. The jump has been at Holmenkollen since the late
19th century and has been rebuilt many times. The most recent rebuild was done for the
2011 Nordic World Ski Championships and it is usually possible to take the lift to the top of
the jump. Sadly, the lift was being serviced the day we were there so, as a special treat, our
guide took us into the Royal Box; what immediately strikes one is how functional a space it
is! The Royal Family were consulted on the decor and, since they would be outside most of
the time looking at the competitors from the viewing platform, they said they wanted the
interior to be plain. It was a wonderful way for us to end our visit to Oslo; as we left the Royal
Box, we were amused to see the red carpet rolled up in a corner at the foot of the stairs!

								
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