As the Antarctic field season is getting underway, we thought it might be a good time to provide a little update on some of the ‘behind the scenes’ activities of the SCAR Secretariat.
Over the past few months, a lot of work has gone into streamlining various processes in hopes of us being able to more efficiently help support SCAR’s activities. This has involved things like the creation of the SCAR Membership Guide, a quick overview of all of SCAR’s groups and committees, development of a guide on proposing new SCAR groups and activities, the creation and approval of a suite of legal policies, outsourcing much of the routine finances to an accounting firm, establishing a green investment portfolio for SCAR’s reserves, developing new promotional material, and many other internal administration changes like sharing files and using scar.org email addresses. It’s been busy, but we think these were all important steps to help SCAR better support its activities.
In addition there are a few other highlights that you may notice over the coming weeks. Over the weekend, we will be launching our new SCAR website. The main need for this was to improve security because it was being frequently hacked - and as many of you have suggested it was a bit acronym heavy and hard to find things. With the help of Hanne Nielsen (2017 SCAR Fellow), we think the new site has a much improved menu structure and hopefully will allow site visitors to find the research and activities they are looking for much more easily. We would also like to thank Kristin Timm for help with the majority of the graphics on the website, and Bonn Crim and Brooks Patton from Migrate my Joomla, who did a lot of the heavy lifting on setting the new (and hopefully more secure) website structure.
As part of this new site, we are also pleased to introduce the SCAR Library. Thanks to the dedicated and talented Narelle van der Wel (2005 SCAR Fellow), we have a fully searchable repository for all of SCAR’s many documents, meeting papers, and much more. As part of this new Library, we are also pleased to inform you that all of the previous SCAR Bulletins and Reports, dating back to the beginning in 1958, have been OCR scanned and will be part of the searchable library. This opens up a treasure-trove of information on SCAR’s past achievements and helps to provide readily available documentation on the development of Antarctic Science.
Building on the SCAR Library, we are also very pleased to have Archivist Leonora Fane-Sanders joining the Secretariat for a few months. Leonora has taken on the big task of going through boxes and boxes and boxes, and filing cabinets and filing cabinets of old SCAR papers, again dating back to 1958. These boxes are filled with very interesting developments of the organisation, early letters on how it all started and when various countries joined, and they hold some interesting tales of how Antarctic interests developed over the past 60 years. We are hoping that this catalogue will be available for researchers by mid-November. Following that, we hope the original archived documents will be hosted in the Scott Polar Research Institute’s Archives, and eventually OCR scanned and online - making SCAR's amazing history freely available to all.
We are also pleased to announce that Iqra Choudhry will be starting her PhD project this fall and “Unlocking the SCAR Archives”. Simone Turchetti and Kieron Flanagan from Manchester University will be her supervisers. Iqra is also very interested in communicating with the wider SCAR community and the general public some of the interesting nuggets she uncovers, so look for ‘Stories from the Archives’ coming soon.
This summer, we were also very fortunate to have Jesamine Bartlett join us for a few weeks for an internship as part of her NERC PhD grant. Jesamine went through all of the old SCAR Bulletins (over 150 of them) and created summaries of the contents which will be part of their entries in the SCAR Library. Amongst Jesamine’s many talents, is graphic design - and she has helped to create a general “What is SCAR?” presentation that will be available for anyone to use. This presentation has information on the history of SCAR, our member countries and unions, our many active science groups, our standing committees, capacity building efforts, and much more. We hope many of you will find this useful if you are ever asked to talk about SCAR, or perhaps will help those of you who aren’t that familiar with all we do to learn a little more. We thank Jesamine for her great work and hope she joins us again soon.
There are many other things going on as well, but these are the highlights. We hope that as the new things roll out, you have an opportunity to learn more about SCAR and enjoy some of these new resources.
As some of you may know, the SCAR Secretariat is quite small. I would like to thank the Excellent Eoghan, our Executive Officer, for his due diligence with our finances, capacity building and communication activities, and much more. Remarkable Rosemary, our part-time Administrative Assistant, helps to keep everything together (including me!) - and many of you know that because she is often your ‘go-to’ person for whatever your needs are. SCAR continues to grow in member countries (43 currently) and activities (over 30 groups) but the staff size has not increased since it became a charity in 2008. More help is needed to better support all of your important ideas. We thank the SCAR Executive Committee for agreeing to expand the Secretariat with a 50% position for the next few years. Stay tuned to our website for further developments.
With all of these things in place, I feel it’s a good time for me to move on from SCAR to pursue other passions and tackle new challenges. I have enjoyed working with so many of the wonderful researchers and administrators in the Antarctic Community and I hope our paths will continue to cross. Thank you!
Best regards - Dr. Jenny Baeseman, SCAR Exective Director, on behalf of the Secretariat