Minutes, 2 October 2008

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 2 October 2008, National Library of Scotland


  • Marianne Smith — Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
  • Julie Gardham — Glasgow University
  • Norma Aldred — RCAHMS
  • Joe Marshall — Edinburgh University
  • Bridget Bell — ICAS Information Service
  • Graham Hogg — National Library of Scotland (chair)
  • Helen Vincent — National Library of Scotland
  • Anette Hagan — National Library of Scotland
  • Karen O' Brien — Edinburgh City Libraries
  • Lindsay Levy — Advocates Library
  • Colin Duncan — Watt Library
  • Norman Rodger — Edinburgh University
  • Enda Ryan — Mitchell Library
  • Sheila Millar — East Lothian Local History Centre
  • Helen Beardsley — Stirling University
  • Keith O'Sullivan — Aberdeen University
  • Elizabeth Henderson — St Andrews University
  • Ian Riches — National Trust for Scotland
  • Eoin Shalloo — National Library of Scotland
  • Robert Betteridge — National Library of Scotland.

Graham Hogg began by thanking everyone for attending and welcoming Ian Riches, Keith O'Sullivan and Sheila Millar.

1. Apologies

  • Paulette Hill — Historic Scotland
  • Jill Evans — SCURL
  • Ellen Peacock — SATER
  • Marian Kirton — Napier University
  • Jane Hutcheon — Royal Botanic Garden
  • Marion Beaton — Mitchell Library
  • Almut Boehme — National Library of Scotland
  • Christine Cain — Sabhal Mor Ostaig
  • Sandra Cumming — Dunimarle Library
  • Brian Hillyard — National Library of Scotland
  • Iain Milne — Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Anne Morrison — Edinburgh City Libraries
  • Andrew Nicoll — Scottish Catholic Archives
  • John Scally — Edinburgh University
  • Allison Watson — University of the West of Scotland.

2. Scotland and Europe

Norman Rodger reported the progress of the Scotland in Europe project. John Scally, Director of Collections at Edinburgh University Library, had spoken at the CILIP RBG conference in September about problems in securing funding for such a large project. NR noted that organisations such as eContentplus had been found to be inappropriate and there were no other suitable sources available.

NR reported that an application would be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £50,000 to fund a pilot project to catalogue one collection. Elizabeth Henderson asked if this would be in Edinburgh. NR replied that it could be located in whichever library had the most suitable collection for a pilot. EH also asked how the pilot project would interact with the CERL database. NR recognised the possibility of an overlap but suggested any queries on this be taken up with Brian Hillyard. Graham Hogg reminded members to contact NR with details of any unreported collections which could be included in the project.

3. Minutes of previous meeting (19 March 2008)

Elizabeth Henderson asked for her apologies for absence at this meeting to be noted. The minutes of the previous meeting are available. GH thanked the Mitchell Library again for their hospitality and Helen Vincent for taking the minutes.

4. Matters arising

GH asked for people's experiences of the CILIP conference and 500 years events. Norma Aldred said that colleagues she spoke to from outwith Scotland at the conference were impressed by they way we work together and thought that the conference had done much to raise the profile of Scottish libraries. GH thanked the conference organisers for their work.

500 years exhibitions are ongoing at: Edinburgh Central Library, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, St Andrews University, Mitchell Library, National Trust for Scotland (at Charlotte Square HQ) and Scottish Centre for the History of the Book, Napier University (showing at the Museum of Edinburgh).

5. Forum update

5.1. Organisation and forum membership
GH reported that there are 71 names on the JISC mailing list for RBiS. Joe Marshall has taken over as the list owner. GH asked members to use the list to publicise events.

5.2. Workshops
Joe Marshall reported that the Latin for Rare Book Librarians workshop had been very useful and that it would be worth repeating. Keith O'Sullivan expressed interest in attending such a workshop.

6. Future forum activities

6.1. Meetings
Keith O'Sullivan would have a date for the Spring 2009 meeting at Aberdeen University by the end of October. Joe Marshall asked that the disaster planning workshop at Edinburgh University Library be held later next year.

6.2. Workshops
GH raised the prospect of changing the format of future cataloguing workshops as demand for the present content of them had been largely met; those present expressed interest in one on covering the changes from DCRB (Descriptive Cataloguing of Rare Books) to DCRMB (Descriptive Cataloguing of Rare Materials — Books). GH suggested a workshop on ESTC reporting. Lindsay Levy suggested one on the Hand Press Book (HPB) Database which GH acknowledged is not well used. NLS will organise next year a workshop to cover all aspects of reporting to ESTC and other union catalogues.

Two other suggestions for future workshops were exhibitions - including preservation issues and label writing and funding sources. Elizabeth Henderson offered St Andrews University as a venue for future workshops.

Karen O'Brien reported on Edinburgh Central Library's ongoing application to the Pilgrim Trust to catalogue and to do conservation work on their Rosebery pamphlets collections. Those present discussed the problems involved in writing an in-depth application for collections which are uncatalogued and whose contents are not completely known. Helen Vincent suggested making fundraising a regular agenda item.

6.3. Web pages
GH drew attention to the new position of the RBiS pages on the NLS website and asked if members wanted to see more information online. Brian Hillyard had suggested adding member library's collection development policies.

7. Rare book librarianship training issue

GH reported that little progress had been made. Organising 500 Years of Printing events and the CILIP conference had allowed BH little time to work on this. Those present discussed the current situation regarding rare book librarianship training and raised concerns such as: rare book knowledge being seen as an academic skill and not a library based one; popularity of the history of the book not leading to further interest in rare book librarianship; rare book librarianship being seen as a subset of an archivist's skills; universities not having the resources to teach; who will take on responsiblity for delivering the planned module.

GIH noted that the question of who would write the preliminary report, for which SCURL funding had been made available, had yet to be resolved. Julie Gardham suggested it could be written by a library student. She will speak to a recently qualified student at GUL to see if they would be interested. JG asked how the £1000 from SCURL would be paid. GH expected that whoever wrote the module would be seconded and that the money would be paid to the employer. As the project was already behind schedule GH expressed the hope that the work could be done by June 2009.

8. Future of RBiS

GH asked for suggestions regarding the format of meetings. Norma Aldred appreciated the opportunity to visit other libraries and find out about their collections. Helen Beardsley asked if the date of future meetings could be announced at the preceding meeting. Joe Marshall suggested there could be a more social aspect to the meetings. Marianne Smith would like more opportunity for networking other than over lunch at the meetings. Elizabeth Henderson mentioned the model of SUSCAG meetings where each member talks briefly about recent developments in their organisation and raised the possibility of someone presenting a paper on a pertinent theme or issue. Helen Vincent suggested break-out sessions to aid discussion and networking.


Ian Riches, National Trust for Scotland archivist, talked about developments in the NTS. Currently the NTS has no librarian and has relied on volunteers to catalogue its collections. IR revealed that paper-based catalogues exist for many houses' libraries but no online system for recording contents. IR has met with Brian Hillyard and Martyn Wade and the Trust is looking at a strategy to employ a librarian and develop the management of the books in its care. Books in NTS properties have traditionally been viewed as part of the decoration of a house and in some cases may have been moved from other locations purely for aesthetic reasons. GH thanked IR for attending.

Anette Hagan demonstrated the 'Spread of Scottish printing' website and the Internet Archive Project. This project involves the scanning of 3000 out of copyright volumes in one year and making them available online in six different formats. AH revealed that about half the total number of items being scanned are from the NLS's Gaelic collections. AH invited members to contact her for more information or to see the scanning being done at the NLS's Causewayside building.

Helen Beardsley announced the major refurbishment at Stirling University would begin next year and be completed by August 2010 and offered Stirling as a location for a meeting in Autumn 2010 or Spring 2011.

Norma Aldred highlighted the 'Scotland's treasured places' exhibition at Edinburgh's City Art Gallery, 25 October 2008 to 17 January 2009.

GH thanked everyone once again for coming. Following the close of the meeting GH and Helen Vincent offered a guided tour of NLS's 'Imprentit' exhibition.

Robert Betteridge
3 October 2008


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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