Special guest post: Mystery coolness

If you’re in the mood for a puzzle, see if you can guess what this is (or just scroll down):

(“Abstract art” is not the answer I’m looking for – potentially correct though that may be anyway)

Here are three hints – click-and-drag to see the hidden text on each line.

Harder hint: Try using Street View.

Medium hint: Zoom out.

Easier hint: Try turning on Satellite view, then zooming out.

Scroll down for the answer:

Antarctic 3 - Casey Station
Casey Station, Antarctica

If you guessed “the Antarctic library that will be joining us on International Games Day”, better known as the base library at Casey Station, once again you are technically correct, but that still is not the answer I’m looking for. That answer would be: “the home of today’s guest author – and the host of the Antarctic wing of International Games Day @ your library and the Global Gossip Game – Ben McKay”.

Before I hand over to Ben, let me just say: Casey Station is one of the most far-flung outposts of humanity on the planet. That we are able to connect with them, even just to share a game or two, is both a marvel and a privilege. Much as I love IGD@yl in and of itself, I have to confess that knowing we’re joined by people even on Antarctica is probably going to be my favourite thing of this year.

So thanks Ben – for the post, and for the vital work you and your colleagues do in extraordinary conditions! Library folks all over the world send best wishes to you all.

Take it away, Mr McKay!


G’day everyone,

My name is Ben McKay, and I’m originally from Sydney. I have worked in Antarctica for 6 years now, and this is my first season in Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). I’m based in Casey Station, which is south of Western Australia, near Vincennes Bay on the Antarctic mainland.

Antarctic 2 - Aurora
Against the backdrop of a beautiful aurora, clear signposting makes Casey Station dead easy to get to.

My job here is to oversee the maintenance of the machinery and facilities that are specifically for aviation operations, as well as operating machinery to keep station clear of snow and to construct the snow runway (ski-way) at the end of winter so a plane can land and drop off the summer staff and supplies.

[What Ben is too modest to mention himself is that on top of his day job, he also keeps the base library running! He has support from a Librarian back at AAD headquarters in Tasmania, but he’s the bloke on site. However, he did send us some photos, included below.]

Antarctic - Casey Station library table w puzzle, Antarctica and Polar history shelves
The library includes a range of activities, including puzzles and games – as well as books, of course! The shelves behind the table hold the collections on Antarctica and polar history, but the AAD ensures that there’s plenty of other material as well.

Antarctic - Casey Station library internet
Some of the station’s winter crew connect to the wider world through technologies old and new.

Casey Station is home to 20 staff during the winter months. These include trades personnel, a chef, a doctor, communication technicians, Bureau of Meteorology staff, a storeman, and a station leader. The job of the winter crew is to keep the station running and have everything ready for the summer program when most of the research is performed.

Antarctic - Casey Station midwinter dinner
The annual Casey Station Midwinter Dinner. In summer, hundreds of new scientific personnel come to Casey, but most leave before winter closes in; the winter crew keeps the station ticking over through the bitter Antarctic cold. By the time International Games Day @ your library arrives, Casey will be in full swing again. Depending on duty rosters, participants in the Global Gossip Game may get a chance to play with dozens of these Antarctic adventurers!

Casey is an important station because it has an ice runway to land jet aircraft on wheels and therefore serves as a transport hub for the three AAD stations on the continent. The areas around the station are rich in wildlife and mosses so there is a lot of opportunity to perform research close to base. The station is also home to some large remediation projects that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact that humans have had on this part of Antarctica in the past and at the present.

Antarctic 1 - Penguins
These are just three of the billions of reasons that the environmental and scientific work of our Antarctic explorers matters: what happens in Antarctica can affect not only its inhabitants but the rest of the planet. In the very best tradition of libraries everywhere, the library at Casey not only shares the vast wealth of human knowledge, but supports its users to add to it.

Along with an ice runway for wheeled aircraft, Casey also has a ‘skiway’ for aircraft that land on skis. This allows the station to be used as a base for science to be performed in the field – for example, drilling ice cores in remote areas of Antarctica, which is essential if we are to understand what the climate was like in the past. Having the ability to access and transport equipment and personnel to and from these remote locations using ski-equipped aircraft makes Casey very important to the AAD.

Antarctic 4
The “Red Shed” – the main dwelling at Casey Station, which also houses the library, indoor climbing facilities, a home theatre, a gym, and a photographic dark room.

Thanks for reading, everyone – I hope this little taste of the Antarctic has whetted your appetites, and look forward to joining you all on International Games Day @ your library!


More information about the Australian Antarctic Division Library is available here. 

The Australian Antarctic Division Library is Australia’s national resource for Antarctic information and delivers library, reference and information services to meet the scientific, research, operational and support activities of the Division. Subject areas have an Antarctic focus and include marine biology, glaciology, atmospheric physics, climate change, polar medicine, geoscience, engineering, logistics, meteorology, oceanography, human impacts on the environment, and environmental management, as well as, Antarctic and international policy and Antarctic Treaty information.

The main library, located in Kingston, Tasmania, contains around 12,000 monographs and 1200 journal titles. In addition, there are small recreational reading collections at Australia’s three permanent stations Casey, Davis and Mawson, and the sub-Antarctic station at Macquarie Island.

Current map of IGD participants.

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