Minutes, 6 May 2010

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 6 May 2010, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh


  • Jill Evans (SCURL - Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries)
  • Duncan Chappell (Glasgow School of Art)
  • Jane Hutcheon (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
  • Stephanie Breen (National Library of Scotland)
  • Graham Hogg (NLS)
  • Anette Hagan (NLS)
  • Brian Hillyard (NLS)
  • Helen Vincent (NLS)
  • Keith O'Sullivan Aberdeen University)
  • Elizabeth Henderson (University of St Andrews)
  • Andrew R Nicoll (Scottish Catholic Archives)
  • Helen Beardsley (University of Stirling)
  • Lindsay Levy (Advocates Library)
  • Marian Kirton (Napier University)
  • Marianne Smith (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh)
  • Victoria Peters (University of Strathclyde)
  • Bridget Bell (ICAS - The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)
  • Iain Milne (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh)

1. Apologies

  • Enda Ryan (Mitchell Library)
  • Marion Beaton (Mitchell Library)
  • Anne Morrison (Edinburgh Central Library)
  • Karen O'Brien (Edinburgh Central Library)
  • Ron Livingstone (Aberdeen City Libraries)
  • Carol Parry (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow)
  • Norma Aldred (RCAHMS)
  • Joe Marshall (Edinburgh University)
  • Ian Riches (National Trust for Scotland)
  • Sandra Cumming (Dunimarle Library at Duff House, Banff)
  • Sheila Millar (East Lothian Library and Museums)

The business meeting was opened at 13.00 by Graham Hogg (GH). GH thanked Iain Milne, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, for hosting the event and also for his hospitality in providing a tour earlier in the day. GH welcomed Victoria Peters from University of Strathclyde to RBiS.

2. Minutes of previous meetings (25 March 2009 and 22 October 2009)

GH reported that the minutes of the meeting from 25 March 2009 had been approved. Apart from one addition required to the apologies for absence, GH reported that the minutes of the business meeting of 22 October 2009 had also been accepted. GH thanked Stephanie Breen for taking the minutes of the last meeting.

3. Matters arising, not covered elsewhere on this agenda

Brian Hillyard (BH) noted there are no updates to report on the Scotland in Europe cataloguing project.

BH reminded the group that at the time of the previous business meeting, Anette Hagan (AH) was about to attend the VD17 symposium in Germany. AH provided some feedback from the symposium held in Munich in October 2009 and explained the background to the project that lists books printed in the German language for the period 1601 to 1700. AH reported that there are still gaps in coverage of local material and that contributions from libraries who have not participated are sought. AH noted that the vd17.de website provides images of key pages, such as title page and colophon, and that the resolution of the images is between 150 and 300 dpi. AH also explained the functions of the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN), recording Dutch holdings from 1540-1800, and noted that the National Library of Scotland (NLS) has a number of early Dutch imprints that could be recorded. Elizabeth Henderson (EH) asked about matching records to VD17, and AH responded that, unlike the ESTC, MARC is not used, guidelines are however in place on how to report holdings and their staff are keen to add new titles rather than just update holdings. BH noted the importance of the STCN and its link to the corresponding Flemish database, the Short Title Catalogue Vlaanderen, given that some books recorded in Aldis's catalogue of pre-1701 Scottish books were printed in the Low Countries.

4. Forum update

4.1. Organisation and Forum membership
GH noted that there are currently 70 members. No new organisations have come forward to join.

4.2. Workshops
BH reported on the two ESTC matching workshops that took place in November 2009. Regarding the first workshop, BH thanked Marianne Smith for providing the facilities of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. BH thanked Robert Betteridge from NLS who led the workshop and Stephanie Breen for assisting. For the second workshop held in Aberdeen City Library, BH thanked Ron Livingstone for providing the facilities and also extended thanks again to Robert Betteridge for leading the session. BH recalled that expressions of interest had dictated the geographic locations chosen and noted that he would be happy to arrange similar workshops elsewhere if expressions of interest are shown. BH commended ESTC Riverside for their help in setting up accounts for the two sessions.

4.3. Web pages
GH pointed out that the vocabulary list 'Latin for Rare Books librarians' is available on the RBiS web pages. (Latin for Rare Book librarians PDF: 7 pages; 96 KB) This list was compiled as an aid and is not to be regarded as all-inclusive. GH also reported that Edinburgh University Library has added their Selection and Acquisition Policy for Rare Books to the RBiS web pages. Helen Beardsley (HB) added that she would send the collection development policy from the University of Stirling. GH remarked that by making our collection development policies available, we can co-ordinate our acquisition of material and identify what other institutions have particular interests or specialities in.

5. Future forum activities

5.1. Meetings
HB has kindly agreed to host the next RBiS meeting in the newly furbished library at the University of Stirling in late October or November 2010. GH noted he would be grateful for any offers of venues to host 2011 meetings. Jane Hutcheon (JH) responded that she will investigate the possibility of hosting a meeting at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

5.2. Workshops
It was noted that at the last business meeting Joseph Marshall had been asked about plans for a disaster planning workshop to be held at Edinburgh University Library. GH reminded the group that if anyone is interested in this to let him know.

GH invited BH to give a brief description of CERL, the Consortium of European Research Libraries. BH talked about the possibility of organising a workshop to take place early next year to create awareness of CERL resources such as the HPB Database (The Heritage of the Printed Book in Europe) and its ancillary thesaurus.

GH asked for expressions of interest in a workshop on Cataloguing and Bibliographic Format and BH will discuss with colleagues in NLS how this can be arranged.

GH recalled that interest had been expressed at the previous meeting on exhibition label-writing and planning. GH suggested a session on shared experiences rather than one person leading, adding that this session could possibly be held in 2011 and hosted at NLS. EH highlighted the importance of this kind of workshop for institutions without onsite conservators, mentioning in particular condition reports. On this point BH informed the group of Peter Marsden's new role as Registrar of Loans at the NLS, with responsibilities also for long term deposits and their indemnities.

Keith O'Sullivan (KO'S) suggested that the group attend a workshop on book bindings to be hosted at Aberdeen University. BH added that the RBiS mailing list could provide a useful means for advertising future workshops.

6. Rare book librarianship training

BH provided an update on the module in rare book librarianship that will be taught by distance learning through Dundee University. BH reminded the group that following the formal part of our previous meeting, some of the group stayed on and Pat Whatley and Caroline Brown gave a helpful demonstration of the Dundee University Virtual Learning Environment. The list of volunteers to write (and eventually tutor) the module was finalised: Keith O'Sullivan and Jane Pirie from Aberdeen, Elizabeth Henderson from St Andrews, and Anette Hagan and Helen Vincent from NLS. The above group, along with BH, then met with Pat and Caroline at Dundee University on 24 November 2009, and Anette's report was turned into a basic structure of four units assigned as follows:

Unit 1: What is a rare book? — Helen

Unit 2: Cataloguing and provenance — Keith and Jane

Unit 3: Collections management — Elizabeth

Unit 4: Access and promotion — Anette

BH explained that everybody will read everybody else's units - and BH will rule on any disputes. At present some unit outlines are being circulated and everybody is working to a deadline of the end of June for the finished drafts of each unit. Caroline and Pat have seen outlines and samples of writing style, and have had the module officially approved by Dundee University. If the units are ready, the module can be offered in September 2010. The module will carry 20 credits as part of a degree, but will also be offered as a standalone module for Continued Professional Development. Helen Vincent (HV) noted that the module will involve two pieces of assessment, to be graded by the tutor teaching the module, and that students taking the module must have some access to rare book collections. BH thanked Pat and Caroline for their help and support and all the team for fitting this work into their schedules.

7. Reports from other libraries

From NLS, HV updated the group on the NLS Rare Books blog. GH mentioned the upcoming NLS exhibitions: a golf exhibition opening in the summer, followed by an exhibition on the Enlightenment later in the year.

HB updated the group on the building work at the library at University of Stirling, which will include an environmentally controlled area for special collections and some exhibition space. HB also noted the library had experimented with adding images to Flickr.

EH noted a candidate had been selected to fill a two year post as a Rare Books Cataloguer at the University of St Andrews. EH also reported that an exhibition to mark the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation will open in September 2010 and run until Christmas. EH also noted that a book on the treasures of St Andrews is currently in its design stage.

KO'S reported on the new Library building currently under construction at Aberdeen University. KO'S also reported that training in Rare Books cataloguing had been provided to Library staff, so that staff could devote some time to a retro-conversion project. Keith also mentioned the library's Word festival, taking place weekend of 8 May 2010 and an October exhibition to be mounted in the foyer of the Scottish Parliament in October 2010.

HV reported that the NLS has introduced online registration and remote online ordering for material from Rare Book collections. GH explained to the group how the system worked through the use of virtual barcodes and highlighted some of the benefits, including being able to track statistics on usage of books.

BH noted the ESTC STAR database at Riverside is currently unavailable for holdings to be added, for a three week period, while the database is brought in synchronisation with the British Library.

BH explained that a problem from last summer, halting the exchange of data between the British Library and Riverside, California, had been fixed and that the current downtime is intended to restore normal working practices.

Andrew Nicoll (AN) from the Scottish Catholic Archives reported that some 30,000 books from the former Scotus College seminary will eventually move to Glasgow. AN also updated the group on the cataloguing project at Royal Scots College Library, Salamanca and noted the catalogue would be made available online in the next six months. AN also reported on the classification system applied to books in the library at the Scots College, Rome.

Lindsay Levy reported that funding for restoration work on Abbotsford House seemed likely to be forthcoming. The books will be temporarily moved to the Advocates Library while work is carried out.


GH closed the meeting and once again thanked Iain Milne and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh for hosting the event. The next business meeting will take place in Stirling later in the year.

Stephanie Breen
11 May 2010


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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