Tenth Euraslic Conference - Short Report

The Tenth Euraslic Conference was held in Kiel, Germany, from 7th - 9th May 2003. The venue was the Institut fuer Meereskunde, a multidisciplinary Institute of Marine Research at the University of Kiel.

The Conference was attended by more than 50 participants from 14 European countries and representatives of four International Organizations, the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers (IAMSLIC), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and FAO-ADRIAMED, the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan, and the Support unit for Fisheries and Aquatic Research (SIFAR). The local host for this Conference was the Institut fuer Meereskunde.

The conference programme included special sessions on "Cataloguing the Internet", "From Print to Electronic Media" and "Networks" as well as the regular "Country Reports" and "Virtual Poster" sessions that are a feature of all Euraslic Conferences. The keynote paper "Internet versus Information" was presented by Roland Cormier, an information systems expert from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and who is the current Coordinator of the Aquatic Food Products Initiative. The paper took a holistic approach to the impact that the Internet has had on the collection, organisation and dissemination of information. Other invited papers included: "Portals: History, Features and Typology" by Prof. Hermann Rösch, FH Köln, Germany, and "FishBase - an Internet Gateway to Information on Fish" by Dr. Rainer Froese, Institut fuer Meereskunde, Kiel, Germany.

Discussion sessions included: European Countries in Economic Transition (ECET), Chair: Maria Kalenchits, Estonian Marine Institute, Estonia; Mediterranean Special Interest Group (MedSIG), Chair: Jean Collins, Fisheries Library, FAO, Rome, Italy; Freshwater Libraries, Chair: Ian McCulloch, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Windermere, UK; Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Chair: Diane Hoffman, CSA; and E-Learning and Libraries, Chair: Paul Nieuwenhuysen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. The European Countries in Economic Transition (ECET) Group had a fruitful discussion session focussing on issues pertinent to several new members from Russia. Some members of this Group are already involved in the Black Sea Library Cooperation Project, the Scoping Study of which was funded by IAMSLIC. Plans to establish a Euraslic Mediterranean Special Interest Group were taken forward in a Discussion session chaired by Jean Collins of FAO, and which included participants representing UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan, FAO-ADRIAMED, National Centre for Marine Research (Greece), Rudjer Boskovic Institute (Croatia) and the Marine Science Institute of Andalucia (Spain). Short reports from all of these Discussion Sessions will appear in the Conference Proceedings.

The country reports session is a regular feature of Euraslic Conferences and provides a valuable opportunity for members to report on developments in their own institutes, countries and regions. Whilst many members reported advances in their access to technology and the Internet and improved staff conditions, Denmark stood out as a very worrying case with three out of the four centres that encompass aquatic sciences suffering cutbacks in library staffing and services, and the remaining library staff being required to take on extra duties and consultancies. The current cutbacks are attributed to the new government's lower priority of the environmental issues manifesting in reduced appropriations to the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. DHI Water and Environment has also been compelled to reduce their staff by approximately 10%, meaning the loss of one library assistant, leaving one person to serve the 300 remaining employees and DHI offices around the world. Euraslic members expressed strong concerns at these cutbacks affecting their colleagues in Denmark, and the wider impact that such policies will have on aquatic and environmental information provision in Denmark at a time when environmental issues are high on the International agenda.

Sponsorship is a very important ingredient for a successful Conference, especially when a significant number of our members come from institutes in countries with poor economies. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of Unesco is a highly valued supporter of Euraslic in this respect and provided US$4,000 to fund Euraslic members and other nominated persons to attend. The IOC sponsorship was used to fund three participants from Russia, as well as one from Bulgaria and a fifth from the Ukraine. The International Association of Aquatic and Marine Sciences Libraries and Information Centers (IAMSLIC) kindly awarded Euraslic a Grant of US$2,000, and this was used to fund a fourth participant from Russia to attend, as well as a member from Spain. Euraslic made available a further c.2500 euros from core funds to sponsor or partially support the attendance of members from Croatia, France and the United Kingdom. Attendance at this European Regional Conference provided them with the opportunity to establish links and make useful contacts, and they actively contributed to the conference by presenting papers, reports or posters and taking part in the Workshop and discussion sessions.

A workshop entitled "Lost in Cyberspace: Raising Your Institute's Profile on the Internet" was Coordinated by Ian McCulloch of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Windermere, UK. The workshop explored ways to attract more visitors to an Institute's website, and in doing so, to raise the organization's profile, and hopefully the librarian's profile within the organization. The workshop started with a discussion of a few general tips, after which the participants broke into smaller groups and examined some websites. Within the groups, the strengths and the weaknesses of these sites were analysed, and then the participants came together again to discuss their findings. Finally, some guidelines, to be published in the Conference Proceedings, were drawn up.

The Conference Proceedings: EURASLIC 10: Smooth Sailing: Crossing the Boundaries in Aquatic Sciences Information Management. The Tenth Biennial Conference of the European Association of Aquatic Sciences Libraries and Information Centres, 7-9th May 2003, Institut fuer Meereskunde, Kiel, Germany, will be published by the Institute of Oceanology, Varna, Bulgaria. Edited by: Snejina Bacheva, Joan Baron Varley and Barbara Schmidt.

For further information about the Conference or other Euraslic activities, please contact the Euraslic Executive Secretary, Snejina Bacheva.