Minutes, 11 November 2010

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 11 November 2010, Stirling University Main Library


  • Jill Evans (SCURL — Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries)
  • Jane Hutcheon (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
  • Graham Hogg (NLS)
  • Anette Hagan (NLS)
  • Brian Hillyard (NLS)
  • Helen Vincent (NLS)
  • Helen Beardsley (Stirling University)
  • Lindsay Levy (Advocates Library)
  • Anne Morrison (Edinburgh Central Library)
  • Karen O’ Brien (Edinburgh Central Library)
  • Joe Marshall (Edinburgh University)
  • Julie Gardham (Glasgow University)
  • Jane Pirie (Aberdeen University)
  • Michelle Gait (Aberdeen University)
  • Daryl Green (St Andrews University)

1. Apologies

  • Enda Ryan (Mitchell Library)
  • Sandra Cumming (Dunimarle Library at Duff House, Banff)
  • Sheila Millar (East Lothian Library & Museums)
  • Andrew Nicoll (Scottish Catholic Archives)
  • Elizabeth Henderson (St Andrews University)
  • Ron Livingstone (Aberdeen City Libraries)
  • Ellen Peacock (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)
  • Bridget Bell (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)
  • Victoria Peters (Strathclyde University)
  • Marianne Smith (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh)

The business meeting was opened at 14.00 by Graham Hogg (GH). GH thanked Helen Beardsley (HB), for hosting the event and also for her hospitality in providing a tour and putting on a display of Special Collections material. GH welcomed Daryl Green to RBiS.

2. Minutes of previous meetings (6 May 2010)

The minutes of the meeting of 6 May 2010 were approved. GH thanked Stephanie Breen from NLS for taking the minutes of the last meeting.

3. Matters arising, not covered elsewhere on this agenda

Brian Hillyard (BH) confirmed that Andrew Nicoll from the Scottish Catholic Archives is working on a new integrated catalogue of Scottish Catholic collections which are held within Scotland and abroad as part of the Networking Archives and Libraries in the Catholic Church (NALCC) project.

BH reported that there were presently no problems with ESTC and the STAR database.

4. Forum update

4.1 Organisation and Forum membership
GH noted that RBiS membership is constant.

4.2 Workshops
There have been no workshops this year.

4.3. Web pages
HB and Duncan Chappell have both submitted collection development policies for Stirling University and Glasgow School of Art respectively. They are still to be mounted on the NLS website. GH would circulate a message to the Forum members when they are live.

5. Future forum activities

5.1  Meetings
Jane Hutcheon (JH) has kindly agreed to host the next RBiS meeting in the library of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on 28 April 2011. GH noted he would be grateful for any offers of venues to host the second 2011 meeting.

5.2 Workshops
No cataloguing and bibliographic format workshop has been held at NLS for over two years. GH would circulate a message inviting expressions of interest for a half-day workshop each on cataloguing and bibliographic format in early 2011, as well as on another workshop on ESTC Matching.

Helen Vincent (HV) mentioned the National Preservation Office sessions on conservation and preservation needs and stressed their openness to schedule a session in Scotland. NLS, National Archives of Scotland and Edinburgh University Library have all hosted a session. HV suggested that interested members could lobby the NPO for a course in their vicinity. It was agreed that HV should continue to post notices of NPO courses to the RBiS mailing list.

As to exhibition workshops, Edinburgh University has two grants involving collaborative exhibitions under the AHRC Museums, Archives, and Libraries scheme, one with the British Library and one with NLS (both also involve EUL collections). In October EU submitted an application for follow-up funding to these exhibitions for a project involving looking at exhibitions of print and archive material, including both practical aspects such as conservation and issues such as label-writing and displays on controversial subjects. The demand for workshops on exhibition issues noted in past RBiS minutes was referenced in this grant application, and it was envisioned that the workshops would be open to RBiS members and outcomes such as guidance notes for mounting such displays would be posted on the RBiS website. HV, John Scally and Joe Marshall (JM) were consulted about the grant application and the result will be announced in 2011.

Anette Hagan (AH) proposed a workshop in 2011 about CERL.

Keith O'Sullivan (KO'S) had suggested at the previous meeting a workshop on bookbinding, but due to Aberdeen University Library moving into a new building, KO'S would not be in a position to plan such a workshop until the move is completed, i.e. not until after September 2011.

6. Rare book librarianship training

BH commented on the importance of SCURL supporting this undertaking. He reported that due to other workloads those involved in producing the module had fallen behind the original timetable, and that there was not enough time to sufficiently publicise the module for a January 2011 launch. At the suggestion of Caroline Brown (CB) of Dundee University it was agreed to launch it in May 2011. Flyers advertising the module had been created and were distributed to those present. The editorial process of the module writing has begun: BH oversees the actual content of the four units while CB focuses on the presentation as a distance learning module. BH thanked those involved to get to this stage. With regard to teaching the module, the number of people teaching it depends on the number of students taking it up. It is envisaged that one tutor could cope with a group of around six students, but if there were more than that, the group would be split between two tutors. Both tutors would simultaneously teach the full module.

As to costs, the module attracts a study fee of £610 plus a registration fee of £95. It will be possible to sign up to this module only.

Jill Evans (JE) passed on a note of thanks from SCURL for those involved in setting up the module.

7. Reports from other libraries

From the Royal Botanic Garden library, JH reported that an entrance fee to the Garden is now being considered. The library has lost one member of staff through retirement but a replacement has been gapped. JH has had volunteers from NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) doing conservation work on the collections for the last two years; they have worked their way through about a quarter of the collections so far. Biodiversity Heritage Library Europe, a subset of Europeana, has supplied a project worker to the Botanic Gardens for nine months to digitise books on agriculture, biology and natural history for an online portal. The project worker is being paid by the EU.

JE spoke on developments with the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library initiative (SHEDL) which had led to a collaborative deal to subscribe to some publications for an e-books trial and access being provided for Scottish HE institutions to online journals from academic publishers such as Cambridge University Press (CUP), Edinburgh University Press (EUP), Oxford University Press (OUP), Springer, and Portico.

Joe Marshall (JM) noted that Edinburgh University Library was developing a long-term strategy for managing rare books. An in-house rare books cataloguing manual interpreting DCRMB had been completed. The first proper stockcheck had started as part of programme to check all the rare book collections over a 10-year period: in future it would take place annually during the closed week of the Centre of Research Collections in May. A regular programme of conservation would be carried out by private conservators once a week on the University's premises. A programme of volunteers along with a policy and application form had been set up. There are more requests from volunteers than can be accommodated. Some volunteers would do some RB cataloguing using Excel, so the entries could later be converted into Voyager records. The volunteers are mostly students. There are at present about eight of them working in Special Collections.

Julie Gardham (JG) updated the group on developments concerning the Glasgow Incunabula Project: its aim is to create a website with records and images of the circa 1,000 incunables in Glasgow University Library’s collections. About 300 existing catalogue records have been upgraded so far to DCRMB standards and include copy-specific details, and each record will be illustrated with images which will be mounted on the Library's Flickr site. The project web pages are available from the Glasgow University website. JG would welcome feedback on what had been achieved so far. The official launch will be announced in January. JG and Jack Baldwin, honorary researcher for the project, would give a talk at the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society meeting on 7 April 2011.

Anne Morrison (AM) and Karen O'Brien (KO'B) reported from Edinburgh Central Library on their use of volunteers. They have a group of ladies from EdFAS (Edinburgh Decorative and Fine Arts Society) helping with the removal of Sellotape from photographs. It was also proposed to use interns to do some research on some of the library’s rare items, including James Skene Collection and the Boog Watson collection on 'The Dance of Death'. AM and KO'B also noted that the library's cataloguers had started to create records for items in the Rare Books Room.

For NLS, Anette Hagan (AH) spoke about the First Minister’s reception at Edinburgh Castle on 3 November to mark the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation. Alex Salmond had asked for two particular rare items from NLS to be displayed during the reception and AH was on standby for questions regarding these.

GH reported that NLS had reverted to have one reading room for both rare books and manuscripts, but that since the last time there had been a single room for both categories of material (2006) there had been a 300% increase in rare books being ordered due to the introduction of online ordering for rare books and the cut-off date of publication for rare books being moved from 1800 to 1850. HV noted that the current exhibition in the NLS Treasures area featured NLS and Aberdeen University Library copies of the Aberdeen Breviary, a rare opportunity to compare items from Scotland's first printing press. She thanked Aberdeen University Library staff for their help with this exhibition. AH reported briefly on the CERL seminar and AGM which took place the previous weekend in Copenhagen and reiterated her intention to update the group members about CERL resources at a workshop next year.

Lindsay Levy (LL) from the Advocates Library announced that the contents of the Abbotsford Library would be decanted into the Advocates Library while the library at Abbotsford was undergoing a major refurbishment. This work will be enabled by a HLF grant which would be marked by exhibitions and other public events. LL reported that she had finished cataloguing all pre-1801 printed books belonging to the Advocates Library, and that her next task would be cataloguing manuscripts on deposit in NLS.

Daryl Green (DG) took up his post as Rare Books Cataloguer at the University of St Andrews at the end of July. His work focuses on British imprints, and he has been asked to write a cataloguing manual. He handed round a copy of the new book about treasures of St Andrews University Library, which would be officially launched in two weeks' time. DG reported that the money originally granted for the refurbishment of the university library had been greatly reduced due to the present financial situation. Nevertheless, Special Collections would be required to move into a temporary offsite location. Decanting the collections had commenced and would involve the move of circa 11 km of items by the end of May 2011.

Jane Pirie (JP) reported from Aberdeen University Library that the tender to shelving suppliers had gone out, and that the new library building is planned to be open to students from September 2011. She also advised that the cataloguing unit was being trained in rare books cataloguing now.


HV proposed inviting a representative from the National Preservation Office to speak to an RBiS meeting. BH suggested that Dr Cristina Dondi, Secretary of CERL, could also be invited. Such sessions could take the place of library tours or displays of special collections items by the hosting library. As GH noted, 'there's only so many times you can get your treasures out!'

BH mentioned 'Quadrat', the bulletin of the British Book Trade Index maintained at the University of Birmingham. 'Quadrat' No 23, Summer 2010 (PDF: 24 pages; 465 KB) has a brief summary of a presentation about the Chapbooks Project at the University of Leicester. This project ties in with the Print Networks Conference 2012 on cheap print and the book trade.

BH informed the group that his current three-year committee term on the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group ends this December and will be his last. CILIP now appoints rather than elects members for committees, and Anette Hagan has been appointed to the committee. The committee is not based on regional representation, but it is good to note that Scottish rare book librarians will have a voice on it for the next three years.

BH also noted that he had come to the end of the maximum two terms of office in the Bibliographic Standards Committee. He pointed out that the new committee would continue to have a Scottish member: Robin Armstrong Viner from Aberdeen University, and a member of the CILIP CIG Committee, had been appointed in place of Alan Danskin to provide the liaison with CIG.

GH closed the meeting and once again thanked Helen Beardsley and Stirling University Library for hosting the event. The next business meeting will take place on 28 April 2011 at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Anette Hagan
16 November 2010


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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