Rare Books in Scotland (RBiS) is a forum facilitated by the National Library of Scotland for members of staff in Scottish libraries and other organisations (of all sizes and in all sectors) who have responsibility for collections of 'rare books' in the broadest sense (e.g. identified as requiring some special care and / or being unsuitable for inter-library loan).

RBiS builds on an informal group which met on 3 September 2003 and 31 March 2004 and has already organised some workshops. At its meeting on 14 September 2004 this informal group was unanimous in formalising itself into a forum, 'Rare Books in Scotland', which would request affiliation to SCURL, the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries. At the SCURL meeting of 18 November RBiS's request for affiliation was subsequently approved by the full membership.


As an affiliated group of SCURL RBiS shares its aims of:

  • Improving services for users and maximising resources through collaborative action (e.g. sharing skills through workshops, working together in cataloguing)
  • Contributing to the building of a co-operative library infrastructure in Scotland (e.g. by developing collaboration in collection development)
  • Lobbying funding and planning bodies on matters of shared interest (e.g. preservation, library schools curricula)
  • Providing mutual support for members (e.g. by facilitating the development of contacts between individuals and/or libraries)
  • Membership of RBiS is open to all libraries and other organisations within Scotland, small or large, from whatever sector, provided that they have rare book collections in their care. RBiS's activities are open to all staff from member organisations. ( List of members)

Business meetings

Business meetings are held twice yearly at different members' institutions throughout Scotland. Workshops are also held at frequent intervals.

RBiS has a strong practical focus, and administration is kept to a minimum. Administrative support is provided by the National Library of Scotland. There is a Convener (at present Helen Vincent, National Library of Scotland), but no committee structure. The Business meetings hear reports of activities and discuss plans for future activities. The Convener reports to the Forum at Business meetings, and at other times keeps members informed, and consults them by email using a private JISCmail discussion list which is available to members only. New members are always welcome and anyone wishing to join should contact Rare Book Collections, National Library of Scotland, at the address given below.

There is no budget. Events organised by RBiS for its members will be free of charge except where there is a need to recover costs, e.g. if an outside trainer is employed.

Contact us

Anybody wishing further information about RBiS should contact:

Rare Book Collections
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Email: rarebooks@nls.uk
Phone: 0131 623 3899


Working with others