Minutes, 22 September 2005

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 22 September 2005, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh


  • Norma Aldred (Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments)
  • John Dallas (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh)
  • Jill Evans (SCURL)
  • Elizabeth Henderson (St Andrews University)
  • Sarah Hepworth (Glasgow University)
  • Brian Hillyard (National Library of Scotland)
  • Graham Hogg (National Library of Scotland)
  • Jane Hutcheon (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh)
  • Steven Kerr (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh)
  • Lindsay Levy (Advocates Library)
  • Andrew Martin (National Museums of Scotland)
  • Ann Morrison (Edinburgh City Libraries)
  • Sheila Noble (Edinburgh University)
  • Eoin Shalloo (National Library of Scotland)
  • Marianne Smith (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh)
  • Julie Wands (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow)
  • David Weston (Glasgow University).

Dr Hillyard began by thanking Marianne Smith and the staff of RCSEd for their hospitality and the tour of the Library and museum. He also welcomed Jill Evans, the SCURL Service Development Manager, to the meeting.


  • Caroline Brown (Dundee University)
  • David Buri (Glasgow School of Art
  • Jeremy Duncan (AK Bell Library, Perth)
  • Margaret Harrison (Strathclyde University)
  • Marian Kirton (Napier University)
  • Karen Moran (Royal Observatory, Edinburgh)
  • Andrew Nicoll (Scottish Catholic Archives)
  • Ellen Peacock (Institute of Chartered Accounts of Scotland)
  • John Scally (Edinburgh University)
  • Gordon Willis (Stirling University).

2. Minutes of previous meeting (18 March 2005)

The minutes were accepted.

3. Matters arising

3.1. 'Britain in print' project
Sheila Noble gave an update on this CURL project, which was being led by Edinburgh University Library. The second phase of the project had begun in May, cataloguers would be working at several centres across the UK, including Edinburgh University Library, for the next two years. It was now apparent that there would be a shortfall, among the contributing libraries, in the number of catalogue records the project has to create. John Scally and the project manager, Norman Rodger, are therefore looking for new partners to join the project. Those interested should not automatically consider location to be a limiting factor and should contact Norman Rodger. Leaflets about the project were distributed to those present.

3.2. Scottish Chapbooks Catalogue
Eoin Shalloo reported on NLS's contribution to the catalogue, which is hosted by Glasgow University Library. Around 2,500 records of Scottish chapbooks from the Library's Lauriston Castle collection had been created and are being added to the SCC, which itself now has circa 4,000 records in it (Edinburgh City libraries and Stirling University have also contributed their holdings). Other libraries with chapbook collections are encouraged to take part, the size of the SCC now makes it easier to match records to holdings; David Weston and Julie Gardham are the contact people at Glasgow. Next month the Bibliographical Society in London will be discussing plans to create an online database of tracts and chapbooks printed in the UK up to 1850. David Weston noted that the long-term future of the SCC was up for discussion but in the short term the SCC could no doubt play an important role in helping libraries identify their chapbooks and in the Bibliographical Society project.

3.3. CERL
BH reported that NLS exhibition labels from its 'Private Lives of Books' exhibition are now not being included in the published papers of the CERL conference held in Edinburgh last year, but are available via the Rare Books news page on the NLS website. Membership of CERL for smaller libraries in Scotland was available via the cluster arrangement. There were currently six members in the NLS cluster and the RCSEd are in the process of applying to become a cluster library. The two main benefits of CERL membership are access to ESTC via RLIN's Eureka interface and unrestricted access to the Hand Press Book Database. BH was happy to act as an intermediary between potential cluster libraries and CERL management.

3.4 Scotland and Medicine Partnership
On behalf of RBiS BH expressed the Forum's sympathies and best wishes to Dawn Kemp, the RCSEd's Director of Heritage and lead officer of this project, who had been due to give a presentation on it to RBiS, but had recently suffered a family bereavement. The Scotland and Medicine Partnership had launched its website on 7 July, leaflets about the project were distributed to those present.

3.5 ESTC (added to the agenda)
BH confirmed that planning is still ongoing for the transfer of ESTC for public access to the BL's website in 2006. ESTC remains open for collaboration with libraries outwith the Britain in Print Project; the holdings of over 1,200 libraries worldwide were already on it. BH had demonstrated the ESTC matching process in a number of libraries and would be visiting Glasgow School of Art next month to discuss their participation in ESTC. He had also been in contact with NADFAS volunteers planning the cataloguing of the library at Paxton House, Berwickshire, about contributing to ESTC. BH showed examples in ESTC of significant and very rare books being recorded in the Dunimarle collection deposited at Duff House near Banff and in some private libraries. The usual arrangement is for contributors who have notified holdings to ESTC to receive copies of all the relevant MARC records to load into a local catalogue.

4. Forum update

4.1. Organisation and forum membership
There are now 26 members listed on RBiS's web pages, BH asked those present to spread the word about RBiS to non-members. Jill Evans reported that to due to the increase in the number affiliated groups in SCURL it had been decided that in future affiliated groups should submit an annual report to SCURL which would subsequently be put on its website.

4.2 Web pages
A new feature was now on the web pages, the NLS Rare Book Cataloguing Manual. Eoin Shalloo explained that this was the fruit of three years of revision of the previous NLS manual. The decision had been taken to publish it now even though revision of DCRB was ongoing, future versions of it would reflect changes in DCRB. Comments and queries should be directed to Eoin.

4.3. Email list
Graham Hogg reported that a private jiscmail list had been set up in May this year for RBiS, with Sheila Noble kindly agreeing to act as the main list owner. There were currently 64 people on it; GH encouraged other people to use the list to publicise events and raise issues.

4.4. Workshops
There had been one workshop held since the last business meeting, a workshop on conservation and preservation hosted by the NLS yesterday (21 September). Eleven RBiS members had attended a presentation on the work of NLS's preservation and conservation division followed by tours of the Library's reprographic unit and conservation workshop. GH reported that demand for the workshop had exceeded the number of available places so it would be worth repeating.

5. Future forum activities

5.1. Meetings
GH reported that St Andrew's University had kindly offered to host next spring's business meeting (date to be confirmed shortly), the Leighton Library in Dunblane would be the venue for autumn 2006 (the business meeting would held in one of the nearby Cathedral halls). The Advocates Library had offered to host the spring 2007 meeting. The autumn 2006 meeting would probably be held slightly earlier in September than today's meeting but it would have to be scheduled to avoid coinciding with the CILIP Rare Books Group annual conference, which was usually held at the start of the September.

5.2. Workshops
BH outlined possible workshops for repeating and two new ones and invited feedback from those present (email enquiries would also be sent out on the list to ascertain interest).

It was agreed that the workshops on bibliographical format and rare book cataloguing (half-day each) would be worth repeating in their usual January slot.

As mentioned in 4.4 there was sufficient demand for a further workshop on conservation hosted by NLS. This could be combined with a workshop on bindings (half-day each). Those present expressed interest in learning about describing and indexing bindings and cataloguing terminology, there was also strong interest in learning about the structure and materials used in binding. A possible date for this joint workshop could be in February or March of next year.

BH would be prepared to do a Latin for rare book librarians workshop but proposed to timetable this for later in 2006, probably November.

It was agreed that a workshop on exhibition skills (writing labels, etc.) would be a good subject for a workshop, BH would discuss this further with the NLS Education and Interpretative Services Manager and report back at future meetings.

A further possible topic was preparing funding bids. Jill Evans reported that CILIPS would be holding a one-day course on Bidding for Funds and Resources in the NLS in December, details would be circulated on the RBiS mailing list.

5.3. Web pages
BH encouraged everyone to e-mail details of relevant forthcoming events to the mailing list, which could added to the RBiS events web page.

6. 2008 Scottish Year of the Printed Word

BH outlined the current situation. There was still no decision from the Scottish Executive about making 2008 the year of the printed word. The following events, however, would be taking place in 2008:

  • A major summer exhibition in NLS on 500 years of Scottish printing and a travelling exhibition derived from it
  • NLS would create a website on the spread of Scottish printing (Anette Hagan distributed a draft list of showing the first known dates of printing in Scottish cities and towns, suggestions and corrections should be sent to Anette, a.hagan@nls.uk)
  • The online version of Scottish Books 1505-1700 (Aldis updated) would be completed (the years up to 1660 had already been completed, BH noted that the online version of 1641-1660 was 14% larger than the equivalent part of the 1970 printed Aldis)

BH would be attending a meeting tomorrow with SPRAT, National Museums of Scotland and Edinburgh City Museum regarding a proposed major exhibition on the technology of printing to be organised in Edinburgh. He would be interested to hear about anything else being planned for 2008.

7. Uncatalogued collections


BH reported that there has no been call for 'Full Disclosure' proposals from the BL this year and therefore no apparent information on funding opportunities. Recommendations in the final report of the Scottish Executive's Cultural Commission in June might give NLS the opportunity to carry out a census of the country's printed heritage and identify more collections in need of cataloguing. In the meantime the Scottish Chapbook Catalogue offered good opportunities for facilitating online cataloguing of uncatalogued material or conversion of card catalogues. NLS would be happy to help libraries seeking help in cataloguing their early book collections. Jill Evans reminded everyone that last year CURL had produced a Survey of Outstanding Material for Retrospective Conversion and Retrospective Cataloguing in CURL Libraries which was available on the CURL website and provided a lot of interesting information.

8. Rare book librarianship: training issues

At the last business meeting in March it had been agreed to form a sub-group of Forum members (BH, John Scally, Marianne Smith, Elizabeth Henderson and Andrew Nicoll) to document the issues involved and decide on the way forward. Due to pressure of work this summer BH has as yet been unable to start work on this. As a starting point he referred to a paragraph in the Cultural Commission report on the need for sufficient curatorial expertise within Scotland and for training for the next generation of curators. Although written for the museums and galleries sector, it was also relevant for libraries too (BH noted that curatorial expertise is not mentioned in the issues for the library sector in the report). BH proposed that the sub-group produce a written report first outlining possible courses of action, listing the curatorial posts and collections currently existing in Scotland, and outlining possible courses of action. Once completed the Forum could decide on the next course of action, either to send the report to the library schools or to relevant bodies (e.g. CILIPS or SLIC). David Weston reported that he had been involved in providing training on printed evidence for archives and record management training courses in Glasgow. As knowledge of printed material is introduced into such courses, training in rare book librarianship could be seen as an expansion of training for archives.


Thanks were extended again to Marianne Smith and her colleagues for hosting today's meeting.

Graham Hogg
21 October 2005


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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