Antarctic Command

Ronne’s self-justifying and self-pitying account of his disastrous command of the IGY expedition at Ellsworth Station in the Weddell Sea in 1956-58, mainly acknowledging the extreme tensions between military and civilian scientists.

p. 73 shows library (item 4) in diagram map of the station.

p. 101: quotes Kane’s Arctic Explorations.

p. 104: I also got the IGY men going on making a science building library and conference room….We had about 250 books and magazines for the library, but we intended to store office supplies and machinery there too.

p. 127: It was a blessing that we had plenty of reading matter in camp. We had not only one library—but two. The one for the use of all the men in camp was located in the hobby-room in the recreation hall. These books were mostly paper-backs and the men could come and help themselves. Usually, when they had read them they were brought back to the library again or passed on to someone else. [see plate 5 for picture of this recreation hall, with two men reading]

The science library, on the other hand consisted of books of a more permanent nature and some quite valuable. They were purchased by the IGY for use of the scientific staff; but no man in camp would be denied the pleasure of reading all the books in this library, so we made it open with an adjacent reading space. To insure that no book would be lost, I directed the men to read the books there. However, any book taken out would have to be registered. This would insure that the IGY men could put their hands on any book in a few minutes for immediate reference. Otherwise, I knew from experience they would be lost and stashed away some place and never seen again.

Skidmore was obviously violating the rules by letting books out from the library without filling out a charge card. While I was discussing the matter with Thiel, Skidmore came into the library. He readily admitted taking liberties with the books but then immediately blew up and spoke very roughly to me.