Annual Review 2005-2006

Annual Review 2005-2006 continued (page 2 of 3)


Widening our audience is a key aim of the Library. Our year-round programme of exhibitions, outreach and public events, together with an education programme involving learners at school, community and further / higher education levels is developing audiences new to NLS. By working in partnership with voluntary and public sector bodies, we have organised workshops, projects and learning sessions with a wide range of community groups, adult learners, ethnic communities, those living in socially deprived or remote areas and people with disabilities.


The five exhibitions delivered by NLS during the year showcased the great range and versatility of the collections material and staff expertise that contributed to their success, while also demonstrating the Library's continued commitment to identify and attract new and diverse audiences. The year's programme began with 'Ian Hamilton Finlay: of conceits and collaborators', a retrospective celebrating the life and work of the late artist, landscaper and poet who sadly passed away during the reporting year.

Our summer exhibition, 'Scotland's secret war' drew on material from map, science, manuscript and official publication collections to tell the story of how many ordinary Scottish people played an extraordinary role during the Second World War and unearthed official documents that had never before seen the light of day. A particular highlight from this interactive exhibition was the use of a memories board, which allowed visitors to add their own recollections to the personal written and oral histories on display. Both ends of the age spectrum were catered for with associated events, such as the reminiscence workshop organised in conjunction with the Living Memory Association and the education workshops which gave school children and families opportunities to decipher and create coded messages and interrogate a 'spy'.

Our winter exhibition, 'Sale of the centuries: A celebration of shopping in Scotland' opened appropriately in the run-up to the festive shopping season, sought to appeal in particular to two important groups identified as under-represented by the Scottish Executive's inclusion policy: young people and women. The inclusion of Sir Sean Connery's payslip from his time working as a milkman for Scotmid also sparked great public interest and even prompted interest and enquiries from many other of the firm's ex-employees.

The year closed with two smaller exhibitions, quite different in their content but both with a photographic theme and an international or multi-ethnic dimension. 'In the footsteps of Isabella Bird: Adventures in twin time travel' combined NLS manuscript material and photographs from the pioneering 19th-century female explorer Isabella Bird Bishop, with contemporary photographs taken by Japanese Professor Kanasaka from Kyoto University of many of the remote regions she visited. Ms Bishop's travel writings were published by John Murray and she remains one of the pivotal female figures documented within the archive. 'The New Scots' also paired collection highlights with the work of an external photographer. Herman Rodrigues spent 15 years documenting the Scottish Asian community on film. The results of this study were complemented with items selected from the Library's growing collection of modern material from or about the Scottish Asian community. Items ranged from the literature and poetry of Suyall Saadi and Bashabi Fraser to more ephemeral material such as posters and flyers for cultural events. This exhibition was instrumental, not only in raising awareness of the Library among the Scottish Asian community, but also in encouraging this community and others to donate material and bolster their national collection as a result.


Our programme of free events this year (now as frequent as twice week) has continued the trend set in recent years towards maintaining a healthy balance between those aimed at specialist scholarly audiences and those with a broader appeal for the general public. Alongside the usual raft of literary, historical and research book launches we have delivered events on topics as broad as the history and geography of the Holyrood Parliament site, cookery demonstrations based on recipes from the pre-reformation period, Persian calligraphy and shape-poems workshops and an evening of 17th century music re-created for the i-pod generation.

Our annual Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture, now a well established and popular draw at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, was given this year by Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer George Reid MSP, a close personal friend of the late First Minister. Mr Reid's talk touched equally on personal tribute and exploration of the road ahead for Scottish politics.


NLS was proud to continue its support this year for three awards that reward Scotland's greatest literary, craft and research talent. The Callum Macdonald Memorial Award, given in recognition of the best poetry pamphlet, went to Gill McConnell for her 'Garden Party', published by Woodburn Press. The 13th Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition attracted high quality submissions from a pool of international craft bookbinders. Belgian Julia van Mechelen provided the winning entry this year with her goatskin binding of 'Over Boeken'. The Library again played host to the prestigious Saltire Society Awards, an essential fixture on the Scottish literary calendar. Our sponsored award for the Scottish Research Book of the Year this year went to R D Connor and A D C Simpson for their 'Weights and Measures in Scotland' (NMS Publishing and Tuckwell Press).

Education and outreach

Following the launch of the Library's first comprehensive education and outreach programme in 2004, good progress was made in offering learning opportunities for people of all ages, both in and outside of NLS, continued successfully. Through a combination of groups coming to the Library and the education service getting out into the community, over 1000 people took part in activities, with 83 per cent of those visiting from outside of Edinburgh. This was due in no small part to collaboration with a wide range of organisations to jointly create opportunities for communities to engage with their national collection.

Schools service

The schools programme drew on content from all NLS exhibitions produced during the year, from Discover Japan, inspired by 'In the footsteps of Isabella Bird' exhibition, to the One Word Poems workshops, based on Ian Hamilton Finlay, our sessions offered engaging re-interpretations of collection material in a 'hands-on' way for school groups. A particular highlight were the Spy School workshops, developed with TAG Theatre Company and based on the life of Donald Caskie.

This year, an innovative partnership to add value to our schools service was developed with Historic Scotland this year. Schools visiting NLS from outside of Edinburgh now get free entry to Edinburgh Castle, in a move aimed at encouraging schools (particularly those in deprived areas) to get maximum value from their visit to the city and thus stay longer at both sites.

Adult learners service

NLS renewed its commitment to promoting lifelong learning and social justice, through identifying and working with adult learners who have previously faced barriers to using our service. This year's diverse programme included the 'A women's place' project, based on the 'Sale of the centuries' exhibition. For this project we worked with Napier University and the Edinburgh Adult Learning Partnership's FAYRE for Women group exploring issues surrounding gender in advertising.

A Continuing Professional Development workshop for teachers was piloted, in partnership with Mallaig Museum and the Outreach Far and Wide Project. As well as offer training in how to use NLS resources to support classroom teaching, we gathered valuable feedback from teachers about how to adapt our service to best meet their needs.

Family learners service

Encouraging families to learn together through NLS resources is a key strand of our outreach policy. Partnership proved a key to success in our family learning programme. Particularly successful was a Medieval Family Fun Day, inspired by the Murthly Hours manuscript, organised with and hosted by Perth Museum and Art Gallery, which attracted some 341 visitors.

Equally significant was 'The book ofmMe' project, a partnership between NLS, the Outreach Far and Wide project and Women's Aid. This involved working with four families who were victims of domestic abuse in workshops to learn the skills needed to make a book: encompassing everything from making the paper to binding the pages and creative writing, which allowed them to give voice to their experiences in poetry and prose. The end result was a book,'Our time together', which went into the NLS collection.

Visitor centre plans

The ground floor of our George IV building is undergoing some major changes towards transforming the area into a visitor centre in summer 2007. Following the refurbishment in 2005/6 of the issue hall on the floor above, major changes have been planned, including an open access area with computer terminals. Here customers will be able to not only browse our catalogues and digital collections, but also explore the collections of all Scottish libraries, before deciding to register for a reader's ticket. As well as creating more space for displaying treasured items from our collections, the new lay out will crucially provide additional capacity in our reading rooms and space for a dedicated silent reading room.


In March 2005 NLS introduced Wireless Internet Access (Wi-Fi) for registered readers on a pilot basis, thus enabling those customers who use the internet for research purposes to do so on their own wireless enabled lap tops in designated areas of our George IV Bridge site. Pending successful take-up and feedback, we plan to make this available to all customers in 2007.

Delivering remote access

An important element of our plans to widen access for all customers is the development of services that can be used outside of our buildings. Work has continued this year to initiate smartcard technology, developed closely with Dundee City Council, which will enable customers in the Dundee area to become a registered reader without traveling to NLS in Edinburgh, this coupled with the introduction of online registration in early 2007 should make it even easier for people to use their National Library. Exhibitions such as 'Scotland's secret war' and 'Read all about it!' have toured around museums and libraries across Scotland (and even as far afield as Norway) allowing greater opportunities for more people to appreciate the wealth of NLS collections. Information services such as SCOTBIS and the Science Information unit continue to cater for the needs of customers who prefer to have their enquiries answered by telephone and email.

Additionally a number of subscription-based services became available remotely this year. Major additions purchased for the licensed digital collection now include: the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online; the Modern Language Association's International Bibliography; Xreferplus, including Who's Who online; and a major purchase at the end of the year, Early American Imprints 1639-1800, which provides full-text access to more than 36,000 items of early American publishing, and complements existing digital resources such as Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online. All of these titles are now available to registered readers both on-site and via remote access from users' home computers.

Developing digital services

Our plans to create a Digital National Library continued apace this year and much work was dedicated to securing funding towards a long-term project to establish a Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) for Scotland. The TDR will apply the same rigorous preservation procedures to digital material as currently given to printed matter, thus ensuring that our national digital heritage is safeguarded for future generations.

Web presence

While our ongoing programme of digitisation, informed by market research findings, continued, significant strides have been made in improving the usability of our website this year. Following the corporate re-brand in 2004, the need to re-design sections of the site became immediately apparent. This presented the opportunity to improve the way the website can be used by a wide range of visitors, including people with disabilities. Work towards this goal continued throughout the year and was bolstered by two important endorsements towards the year-end. The site received positive feedback from an initial assessment by the Plain English Campaign (PEC) while also passing the first phase of evaluation by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNiB). Work continues towards attaining both the RNiB's See It Right status and the PEC's Internet Crystal Mark.

Web features launched within the period included the Scottish Science Hall of Fame and considerable preparatory work towards two features launched shortly after the year-end: 'Propaganda — A weapon of war', inspired by findings from the 'Scotland's secret war' exhibition on how this groundbreaking political tool was developed and deployed by both parties during the Second World War, and a complete digitised version of Phoebe Anna Traquair's beautifully illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'.

Partnership and collaboration

The Library continues to develop relationships with organisations across a wide array of sectors, subject areas and activities, from digitisation and digital preservation projects to events programming and education and outreach initiatives. Those detailed below and featured throughout the Review are just a small selection of the many collaborative projects and formal partnerships that the Library participates in.


Work continued towards producing a major collaborative exhibition with NMS and NGS celebrating Highland cultural life past and present. 'Fonn's Duthchas' ('Land and heritage') will be part of 2007: Year of Highland Culture, a project aimed at promoting the Scottish Highlands as a place both to live in and to visit. The exhibition will draw on material from the national collections that highlight the Highlands' significant contribution to the nation's cultural identity. Fonn's Duthchas will open in Inverness in January 2007 before beginning a year-long tour of venues across Scotland. Participation in this exhibition will raise the profile of our national collections nationwide and will help to make a connection with people living in remote and rural areas.


A particular highlight of the year was the organisation of digital photography of the Library's treasured Gutenberg Bible by a team from Keio University, Tokyo. The internationally acclaimed Humanities Media Interface (HUMI) Project arrived at NLS in July 2005, having previously photographed copies of the Bible at Keio University, Cambridge University, Gutenberg Museum Mainz and the British Library, and captured the book's 1,300 pages. The resultant images will be used to create a high-quality digital facsimile available online in 2007.

Negotiations have continued between the legal deposit libraries and Ordnance Survey for the acquisition of 'Mastermap', the new format for Ordnance Survey large scale digital maps. Staff from NLS Map Collections Division have been heavily involved in the tendering process, conducted by the British Library, for the software and hosting of the data.

NLS is one of six institutions forming the UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC). This aims to expand the lifespan of websites from the normal average of around 44 days to a century or more. UKWAC is working on a trial system for archiving selected key UK websites, ensuring that invaluable scholarly, cultural and scientific resources remain available for future generations.

As a founder member of UKWAC, NLS continues to explore the issues associated with collecting web sites in the UK. The Consortium aims to build a sustainable, publicly accessible web archive for the UK through collaborative work. The work of the Consortium will also inform future legal deposit regulations for UK website collection, and pave the way for the long-term preservation of the digital content that we collect and create.


In summer 2005 all four national collecting institutions joined forces with their first collaborative marketing campaign: Edinburgh for Free. NLS worked with the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), National Museums of Scotland (NMS) the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, sharing services and resources in order to promote all partners' free summer exhibitions and activities aimed at Edinburgh residents. The combined media relations and marketing skills of the four organisations (and increased buying power) allowed us to produce a cost effective, high profile campaign, including taxi and bus advertising.

Library groups

A groundbreaking partnership with Moray Libraries was announced in November 2005 which will improve access to the national collections for people in the Moray Council area. This partnership aims to raise awareness of NLS resources in schools and library-learning centres, and should also foster joint marketing projects and close co-operation in planning exhibitions. Jill Evans was appointed in 2005 as our Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL) Service Development Manager, ensuring NLS retains cross-sectoral working with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), the Confederation of Scottish Mini-Cooperatives (COSMIC) and the Higher Education institutions. SCURL also has an active involvement with the further education sector through liaison with the Scottish Further Education Unit's Librarians' Network, LIBNET. These networks provide the opportunity for SCURL to work with the public libraries, museums, archives, further and higher education institutions to host events and training seminars.

Among SCURL's key projects are the Collaborative Academic Store for Scotland (CASS) and Institutional Repository Infrastructure for Scotland (IRIScotland). CASS allows libraries to deposit low-use material in a secure environment, thus creating much-needed space for academic institutions. The CASS facility is hosted within NLS and now occupies 4,879 metres. IRIScotland was launched in September 2005 to provide a platform for Scotland's academic research output to be organised, shared and made freely accessible. This pilot project uses open source software to host research information that would otherwise be restricted to subscribers. The project will especially benefit researchers in smaller institutions, which do not have a 'local' repository of their own.

Ayrshire Libraries Forum (ALF) brings together the libraries of the three Ayrshire local authorities, local college libraries and the NHS. NLS has been a member since 2004. Our involvement with the group enables us to contribute to digitisation projects and also to participate in the Ayrshire Libraries Access Scheme, which makes it possible for customers to receive loan items from any participating library at their own local library.

Grampian Information is a library and information partnership which includes public libraries, higher and further education establishments, research institutes, voluntary bodies and commercial organisations. NLS has been involved in organising the group's annual conference, providing speakers for both the conference and for training events.

NLS is also involved with the Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency (ELISA), an organisational network for the libraries and information services in the City of Edinburgh. Alongside participation with various working groups covering access, communications and staff development, we have contributed towards organising the first Edinburgh Libraries Fair, an annual forum for Edinburgh-based information professionals to share ideas and best practice.

Specialist collection groups

Rare Books in Scotland (RBiS) is a Forum hosted by NLS for members of staff in Scottish libraries and other organisations who have responsibility for rare book collections. In 2004 it became affiliated to SCURL, the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries. RBiS aims to improve services for users through running training workshops for members, lobbying funding and planning bodies on matters of shared interest and providing mutual support for members. Business meetings are held bi-annually and workshops are also held at frequent intervals. In the past year NLS has hosted workshops on conservation and on cataloguing and bibliographical format.

Organisational Development


As a modern, forward thinking and responsible organisation NLS has to be efficient, well managed and accountable. To this end a new Best Value review process has been implemented to ensure that we conform to the highest possible standards and expectations. NLS has been active in ensuring the Efficient Government Agenda is taken forward through participation in the shared service forums such as the National Collections Institutions and Non Departmental Public Body Directors forums. A devolved budget regime has also been implemented, giving individual divisions full responsibility for their own share of the public purse, while a structured project management framework has been introduced to ensure consistent good practice across all divisions. This framework in particular will become instrumental in ensuring the smooth running of the John Murray Archive project.

Early in 2006 the three teams responsible for acquiring material — by legal deposit, purchase and donation — were brought together to form a single Acquisitions Unit. New curatorial posts for serials and donations were created to co-ordinate collecting in these areas. The revised structure (and the move to place all three units together in the one location of our Causewayside building) will help to ensure that new acquisitions are made available to customers as quickly as possible.


The Library's cataloguing services have been restructured with processes being integrated and simplified to improve efficiency.

The Cataloguing & Metadata Services Division, which deals with the majority of the Library's record creation, has been re-organised. Three new teams, Electronic Resources, Monographs & Media and Serials, will focus on creating records for the current intake of material, predominantly through Legal Deposit. The revised structure helps improve the currency and coverage of the Library's catalogues through better use of technology and co-operative cataloguing.

A fourth team, Cataloguing Standards & Maintenance, now provide support for all cataloguing through training, quality control and catalogue systems maintenance. The team will also co-ordinate specific projects to deal with unprocessed collections.

Training and development

NLS demonstrates its commitment to becoming a more efficient, better managed and more accountable organisation by ensuring staff are developed and trained to fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

Progress towards achieving the Investors in People (IiP) standard focused this year on the development and implementation of a new Learning and Development Policy. The policy supports staff learning by defining roles and responsibilities for staff and managers. The policy also supports the organisation's performance management process by reinforcing the link between staff development and improving the Library's overall performance.

Customer service training was delivered to all staff with customer contact duties as a precursor to the development of a Customer Service Standard.

The Library ran its first 'Learning at Work Day' in May 2005 to give staff the opportunity to share skills and knowledge with colleagues. Classes included a wide range of topics such as bookbinding, writing poetry and bicycle maintenance.

Health at work

Work towards the Scotland's Health At Work silver award continued this year with a host of activities designed to support staff lead healthy lives. The group helped run annual health and safety training sessions on topics such as diabetes, cholesterol and life coaching, while organising social and charity activities such as a yoga class, jogging club and involvement in a Corporate Fun Run and a coffee morning in aid of MacMillan Cancer Relief.


In order to develop our collections and infrastructure the Library recognises the importance of securing support from private sources such as trusts, foundations, individuals and corporations.

A significant development in the Library's commitment to funding was the launch of our first comprehensive fundraising strategy in early 2006. Implemented on the recommendation of a feasibility study conducted by an independent fundraising consultancy, the strategy is led by a newly established Development Department. The department is responsible for helping the Library to secure external funding for key aspects of the NLS strategy, with an initial focus on the £6.5 million John Murray Archive Campaign.

In addition, acknowledging the need for generating unrestricted funds to develop and enhance NLS collections for the future, and to make it simple for those wishing to contribute, NLS has established a 'Curator's Chest' fund, offering supporters an opportunity to make an impact where it is most needed. This fund may be used for a variety of innovative and pressing purposes from conserving books to creating funds for important new acquisitions that arrive on the market.


Upgrading facilities

Maintaining the national collections to high standards entails the continual monitoring and improvement of our systems and buildings.

One such initiative implemented during the period was the major plant replacement programme in our Causewayside building which significantly reduced energy consumption by utilising an innovative water chiller system. The purpose of the plant replacement project was to maintain the environmental conditions for collections, while driving down energy costs, prolonging the life of the plant and adopting environmental best practice.

With a weekly intake of 6000 items by legal deposit alone, meeting the challenges involved in accommodating our collections requires constant innovation and scrutiny. Towards this end a space rationalisation project was undertaken during the year. This project created 1200 metres of additional storage to give an interim solution pending the development of a full rationalisation plan.


In keeping with 'Scotland's Sustainable Development Strategy', NLS have developed a sustainability policy, which will factor in the environmental impact of all Library projects and help reduce our environmental footprint in the longer term. Following an assessment of specific energy saving opportunities by the Carbon Trust during the year, targets have been set towards building on the success of our energy reduction achievements in the Causewayside site in continuing to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, proposals are underway to implement 'Green Teams', harnessing the commitment of staff across the organisation to undertake energy saving projects.

Visitor centre development

The Library secured funding for opening out the flagship George IV Bridge building into a visitor centre, entailing substantial renovation of the ground floor of the building. This major building project should not only transform the public perception of NLS but will introduce greatly-improved access for people with disabilities and will permit the best environment to showcase the John Murray Archive.

Upgrading technology

ICT network operating systems continue to be upgraded to enable better support for planned new initiatives. Six terabytes of storage have been implemented to enable robust development of storage infrastructure for electronic resources.

The revolution in communications and information management has far-reaching implications for the Library. Web-based services reach millions of people previously remote to the Library. The global developments in digitisation (turning paper material into digital copies) and in joining up collections and catalogues from across the world are ongoing, therefore it is vital that NLS makes adequate provision to retain a prominent role in the digital information world.

A detailed option appraisal was carried out in 2005 by the Library to consider how to collect, store, preserve and provide access to this material. The preferred NLS solution is to build a Scottish Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) which will perform these functions for Scotland, and crucially will communicate effectively with other key parties such as key UK and overseas information providers on the one hand, and local users across Scotland on the other.

General improvements in network reliability have been introduced, and a key upgrade to the Voyager Library management system implemented. Key developments have been the identification of the need to develop the Trusted Digital Repository to manage digital collections holistically, and to integrate diverse ICT databases through a new ICT strategy.

Shared services

In the longer term, NLS will want to expand its facilities and services beyond the current Edinburgh buildings. This will be necessary for capacity reasons alone, with the receipt of 300,000 items a year meaning that storage space will soon be full.

We have therefore been active in approaching other collecting institutions concerning possible joint ventures which could provide exciting new opportunities. For example, there may be scope to establish a state-of-the-art centre for the conservation of paper, audio-visual and digital culture. Such shared initiatives will provide opportunities to share best practice, share costs and maximise efficiency.

A wide range of options for property development to meet NLS needs, and for working with other collecting institutions have come forward during the past year, some associated with the work of the Culture Commission. These options are currently under consideration.


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