Each month, Princh shares a post featuring an interesting project from the library world. Want to be the next Library Project of the Month? Write us an e-mail at info@princh.com.

This month we present Arctic Imagination; an international library collaboration about the disappearing ice and climate change. We have talked with Lise Bach Hansen, Head of the International Authors Scene at the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, who tells us more about the project.


From disturbing to defenseless

In just 100 years, the Arctic and the North Pole has been transformed from deadly and mysterious outer areas to territories, which, in the course of climate change, need our protection and sense of responsibility.

The #Arctic has been transformed from deadly and mysterious outer areas to territories which need our protection and sense of #responsibility. #libraries Click To Tweet

Six major libraries will focus on the theme of Arctic Imagination in 2017 – a series of events, readings and live conversations in New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Nuuk.

Once upon a time, the Arctic’s cold and ice was associated with life threatening and overwhelming forces. Today, temperatures rise at record speed in the region, and the ice in the Arctic melts. The English newspaper, The Guardian, writes that according to American and Danish researchers, the air temperature in autumn 2016 has been about 20 degrees higher than it should be in the winter and the water temperature around 4 degrees higher than normal.

These are very serious problems, with very serious changes, but still the consequences are surprisingly unknown.

Need for increased research

Of course, there is a need for increased research to understand what happens. Perhaps it is important now to realize that it is our lifestyle that is responsible for the problems and that there is a need for a completely changed notion of what nature is like. Nature is no longer an opponent of unlimited resources that needs to be emptied, detected, annexed and defeated.

The northernmost point of the globe, the North Pole, and the surrounding region has historically been an object that people aspired to defeat and possess. The secularism has made the Arctic (and Antarctica) the most extreme periphery. The North Pole’s status today is due to our fear of losing it. However, literature researcher Mads Peder Lau Pedersen has identified in his research how fiction, specifically from the 19th century, used the North Pole as an empty point where fantasies about transcendence and forbidden areas could be played out.

Mads Peder Lau Pedersen has pointed out in his research how the #fiction of the 19th century used the #NorthPole as an empty point where fantasies about forbidden areas could be played out. Click To Tweet

It happened 100 years ago when Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen was on the 2nd Thule Expedition in Greenland on a fateful journey. Two participants lost their lives during the exhilarating trip along the Polar Sea where the purpose was to complete the Denmark Expedition’s mapping of Northern Greenland.

The Arctic nature was a deadly opponent. 100 years later in 2017, ice is melting at a record speed and both politicians, activists, environmentalists and diplomats fight to protect the fragile landscape that is disappearing before our eyes.

Denmark Expedition's mapping of northern Greenland - Arctic Imagination

The Royal Danish Library contributes with a photo from the dramatic Denmark Expedition to Northeast Greenland 1906-1908, photographer: J. Lindhard (1870-1947).

The Arctic Imagination

Therefore, six major libraries in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and New York decided to make an effort to involve the public in what actually happens when the ice melts. What are the consequences? What’s up? In Greenland, everything suggests that radioactive waste appears, which was thought to be encased in ice for time and eternity. On the North Pole, there is more and more water. A new sea will arise when the North East Passage between Europe and Asia opens for longer periods. What does this changed landscape mean for our worldview? For world trade? For geopolitical interests? Will Iceland become a new Singapore?

Six major #libraries in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and New York decided to make an effort to involve the #public in what actually happens when the ice melts. Click To Tweet

And what happens to our world of imagination when the fantasies and the idealization of the Arctic are overtaken by an overly urgent reality where a thousand-year-old symbol, the ice, disappears?

The researchers and diplomats have done a great job to make the world recognize the changes. But the libraries can also do something.

We have big treasures and collections from the polar regions: maps, photographs, old diaries, letters that testify of the innocent urge of man to penetrate and define the blank white spot on the planet and map the unknown.

Projects and activities

With the sound of the shocking story of the human struggle for defining the Arctic, the great transatlantic project creates events, readings, live talks in both New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Nuuk.

Upcoming events including among others Danish actor Nikolau Coster-Waldau and Canadian writer and journalist Naomi Klein.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the Arctic Imagination project. If you want to read more about the activities they have or join the program, you can visit the Arctic Imagination website.

We will be back next week with another interesting article!

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1605, 2024