Minutes, 25 March 2009

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Wednesday 25 March 2009, Aberdeen University


  • Norma Aldred (RCAHMS)
  • Robin Armstrong Viner (Aberdeen University)
  • Helen Beardsley (Stirling University)
  • Siobhan Convery (Aberdeen University)
  • Sandra Cumming (Dunimarle Library at Duff House, Banff)
  • Michelle Gait (Aberdeen University)
  • Brian Hillyard (National Library of Scotland)
  • Graham Hogg (National Library of Scotland)
  • Lindsay Levy (Advocates Library)
  • Ron Livingstone (Aberdeen City Libraries)
  • Karen O'Brien (Edinburgh City Libraries)
  • Keith O'Sullivan (Aberdeen University)
  • Ian Riches (National Trust for Scotland)
  • Jane Pirie (Aberdeen University)
  • Helen Vincent (National Library of Scotland).

Graham Hogg opened the meeting at 2pm by thanking Keith O'Sullivan and his colleagues at Aberdeen University Library for hosting us. The group was earlier welcomed formally to Aberdeen by Alan Knox, Head of Historic Collections at AUL.

1. Apologies

  • Marion Beaton (Mitchell Library)
  • Bridget Bell (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS))
  • Almut Boehme (National Library of Scotland)
  • Colin Duncan (Inverclyde Libraries)
  • Jill Evans (SCURL)
  • Anette Hagan (National Library of Scotland)
  • David Hart (Dundee University)
  • Paulette Hill (Historic Scotland)
  • Jane Hutcheon (Royal Botanic Garden)
  • Marian Kirton (Napier University)
  • Christine Love-Rodgers (New College, Edinburgh University)
  • Joe Marshall (Edinburgh University)
  • Iain Milne (Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh)
  • Ellen Peacock (ICAS)
  • Enda Ryan (Mitchell Library)
  • Marianne Smith (Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh)
  • Allison Watson (University of the West of Scotland)

2. Minutes of the previous meeting (2 October 2008)

Minutes of the previous meeting are now online. GH thanked Robert Betteridge of NLS for taking these minutes.

3. Matters arising

3.1. National Trust for Scotland
Ian Riches updated the group on developments at the National Trust for Scotland. Job losses at NTS mean that it is unlikely a new librarian will be appointed. It was noted that NTS properties which may be closed to the public contain printed collections, and their possible future was discussed. IR is to update RBiS with any new developments.

3.2. 500 years of printing
Brian Hillyard thanked the group for their support of the 500th anniversary of printing in Scotland. An archive of material related to the anniversary is to be added to NLS collections; he asked for any material anyone would like to have added to this archive to be sent to him at NLS, e.g. exhibition leaflets, working papers.

Some publications relating to 500 Years of Printing are still planned: a commemorative booklet to which some RBiS members have contributed organised by the Scottish Printing Archival Trust, and John Gennard's history of the Scottish Print Employers Federation, due for their centenary in 2010. Ian Riches reported on an exhibition which had been held at NTS headquarters in Charlotte Square.

4. Scotland in Europe

BH reported on this project. At our last meeting, Norman Rodger spoke briefly about the intention to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £50,000 to fund a pilot project, but owing to work on other projects, this has not happened. Norman Rodger has now moved to other work, and Brian thanked John Scally and Edinburgh University for making Norman's time available to help develop the project. The raw data from the questionnaire sent to members in July 2007 is available: anyone interested in it, please contact Brian Hillyard.

Elizabeth Henderson (EH) asked if NLS would be taking ownership of the Scotland in Europe project. BH replied that NLS planning does include both the cataloguing of NLS early foreign books, and the project to list pre-1901 foreign books in Scottish collections, but rather than one big Scotland in Europe project, this is more likely to take the form of a flexible approach drawing on different institutions' cataloguing projects: anyone planning any such projects is asked to bear this in mind. The 18th century is still the main focus, and BH hopes to do some work on the methodology.

BH mentioned a symposium on VD17 — the catalogue of 17th-century German books — taking place in Munich in October. He would circulate details to the RBiS mailing list (Note: this was done on Friday 27 March 2009).

5. Forum update

5.1. Organisation and forum membership
GH reported that there are 72 members currently on the list (including staff from New College Library, Edinburgh), and reminded all to publicise the group to anyone they think would be interested in joining.

5.2. Workshops
No workshops have been held since the last meeting.

6. Future forum activities

6.1. Meetings
Edinburgh University Library have offered to host the autumn 2009 meeting in their new Centre for Research Collections, date to be confirmed. Stirling University will host a future meeting, depending on the completion of their building works. Hosts for future meetings, especially spring 2010, are invited.

6.2. Workshops
As agreed at the last meeting, the next cataloguing workshops are to concentrate on English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) and Heritage of the Printed Book database (HPB). BH would like to see a workshop with the goal of encouraging those unfamiliar with ESTC to report to it - this would be hands-on, requiring some computer terminals with access to ESTC, and would include the actual reporting of items to ESTC. It was agreed that such a workshop would be useful and the practicalities were discussed: it would need institutional logons, a supply of books for the workshop, and a leader. NLS staff could lead such a workshop; Elizabeth Henderson offered St Andrews and Keith O'Sullivan offered Aberdeen as a location. A West Coast location might also be needed.

A workshop on HPB and other union catalogues also needs to be planned. It was suggested that one of the goals of the ESTC workshop would be to give beginners confidence in reporting to ESTC, while the HPB workshop could be for more experienced cataloguers.

Disaster Planning
GH is to confirm that EUL still wish to host a Disaster Planning workshop in 2009.

BH reported that CILIP workshops on DCRM(B) are to be arranged this year: one will be in Edinburgh (probably May 2009), others will be in Manchester and London. CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group is planning these workshops. They need to recover costs but the exact price is yet to be determined.

It was agreed that the next meeting will consider new ideas for workshops. Suggestions to be taken forward: funding sources; exhibitions including preservation and interpretation issues.

6.3. Web pages
The vocabulary list from the 'Latin for Rare Book Librarians' workshop is to be added to the RBiS internet pages. This prompted a request for the Latin workshop to be offered again.

7. Rare book librarianship training issue

BH reported that a person has been found to undertake the SCURL-funded framework research: when this has been passed by the SCURL Business Committee, he will make an announcement to the group via the email list. Previously a Working Group was in place consisting of John Scally, Andrew Nicoll, Elizabeth Henderson and BH; he suggested convening a new Working Group consisting of the same people and the author of the framework research to plan and write the module. The announcement of the framework research will also carry an invitation to anyone interested in helping with this to become involved. There was a discussion of the pros and cons of multiple authorship: it was agreed that collaborative planning would be helpful, but there might be problems with collaborative delivery, e.g. payment for tuition, the actual teaching methodology. BH will report further at the next meeting.

8. Reports from other libraries

Aberdeen: The RBiS visit to Aberdeen began with a presentation about the plans for a new library building, and a tour of the present and planned sites. Keith O'Sullivan reported on his team's involvement with planning for the new library, and on new collections and cataloguing projects, including a Wellcome Trust-funded project for cataloguing early printed books on medicine. Finally he reported the retirement of two long-serving members of staff, Richard Turbet and Iain Beavan.

Edinburgh City Library: Karen O'Brien reported that ECL's bid for funding to catalogue and conserve their Rosebery Pamphlet collection to the Pilgrim Trust for had not been successful. However she recommended other libraries to consider applying to the Pilgrim Trust.

Stirling University: Helen Beardsley reported that SUL's building project is under way and most special collections are in remote storage until September 2010.

Innerpeffray Library: BH reported that Innerpeffray library are advertising for a Marketing Manager and Librarian: he would post further details to the RBiS mailing list (Note: done, 27 March 2009).


National Art Library Chapbooks project
BH noted that the National Art Library web pages include a section on chapbooks, with a questionnaire for a chapbooks mapping project. He urged anyone with chapbooks in their collection to fill in this questionnaire as it looks likely that future research will take place based on it.

Talk in NLS
Helen Vincent reported that NLS would host a talk by a French intern about becoming a Rare Books Librarian in France, and invited RBiS members to attend. (Note: details were posted to the RBiS mailing list, 26 March 2009).

St Andrews University M.Litt
Elizabeth Henderson reported that St Andrews University School of History were launching an M.Litt in the History of the Book aimed at those considering a career in related professions as well as further research.

Graham Hogg closed the meeting by thanking everyone for coming and especially Keith O'Sullivan and his colleagues at Aberdeen for their hospitality

Helen Vincent
30 March 2009


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

Speak me