Minutes, 10 May 2012

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 10 May 2012, Innerpeffray Library


  • Helen Beardsley — Stirling University
  • Robert Betteridge — NLS
  • Jack Davis — Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow
  • Veronica Fraser — RCHAMS
  • Julie Gardham — Glasgow University
  • Daryl Green — St Andrews University
  • Lara Haggerty — Innerpeffray Library
  • Jane Hutcheon — Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
  • Graham Hogg — NLS
  • Brian Hillyard — NLS
  • Steven Kerr — Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
  • Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence — Edinburgh University
  • Lindsay Levy — Advocates Library
  • Joe Marshall — Edinburgh University
  • Andrew McAinsh — Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow
  • Karen O’Brien — Edinburgh Central Library
  • Victoria Peters — Strathclyde University
  • Helen Vincent — NLS

1. Apologies

  • Almut Boehme — NLS
  • Duncan Chappell — Glasgow School of Art
  • Sandra Cumming — Dunimarle Library at Duff House
  • Marian Kirton — Napier University
  • Sheila Millar
  • Iain Milne — Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh
  • Andrew Nicoll — Scottish Catholic Archives
  • Keith O’Sullivan — Aberdeen University
  • Lesley Richmond — Glasgow University
  • Enda Ryan — Mitchell Library
  • Marianne Smith — Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh

The business meeting was opened at 13.45 by Graham Hogg (GH). GH thanked Lara Haggerty (LH) for hosting the event and providing lunch and a tour of the library.

2. Minutes of previous meeting (24 November 2011)

The minutes of the meeting of 24 November 2011 were approved. GH thanked Robert Betteridge (RB) for taking the minutes of the last meeting.

3. Matters arising, not covered elsewhere on this agenda

There were no matters arising.

4. Forum update

GH noted that he has been Convener for six years and would be happy for someone else to take over. GH reported that RBiS membership is constant, that the minutes of the previous meeting are available through the NLS website and that any ideas for additions could be raised with him.

5. Future forum activities

5.1. Meetings

There is currently no venue for an autumn meeting. Enda Ryan has been asked if the Mitchell Library could host but GH has yet to receive a reply. GH asked if any other members would like to host future meetings.

5.2. Workshops

There are no workshops scheduled at the moment and GH recognised the importance of scheduling one for this year. RB and James Mitchell (NLS) could lead workshops on bibliographical format, cataloguing and ESTC reporting. LH asked if RB could lead a bibliographical format workshop for volunteers at Innerpeffray to which he replied yes. Joe Marshall (JM) and Helen Vincent (HV) have been working on producing an exhibitions workshop in connection with work for the 'Beyond Macbeth' exhibition recently held in NLS. A questionnaire on content of the workshop was distributed to those present for filling in at the end of the meeting. JM offered to host this exhibitions workshop at Edinburgh University at a later date. HV suggested that Liz Brannigan, a conservator at Durham University, could be asked to offer training on making card cradles to hold items for exhibition.

6. Rare book librarianship training

The second session of the Dundee University distance learning module is almost finished. The course has been tutored by Anette Hagan (NLS) and seven students were registered (one from Scotland), two are doing the full MLitt, the rest are on the CPD programme (Continuing Professional Development). Brian Hillyard (BH) reported that the module would be reviewed in the light of experience gained tutoring the first two iterations and that the next one would begin in September, probably with HV to tutor.

Karen O'Brien (KO’B) has completed the course and would be able to offer feedback.

BH acknowledged that he has still to check with Caroline Brown (Dundee University) whether access to course materials is available to RBiS members. HV thought that it would be possible to bring a hard copy of the course to an RBiS meeting.

7. Reports from other libraries

Stirling University: Helen Beardsley reported that the exhibition on Robert Leighton and his library ran until the end of February and had been a success. The current exhibition is entitled 'Going wild in the archives' and features material from the University’s natural history collections.

Edinburgh City Libraries: KO'B reported that MSc students from Edinburgh University are finishing their placement projects, that fine art volunteers had been cleaning glass slides, and that the Japan Society had made a special visit to the library.

Advocates Library: Lindsay Levy (LL) reported she is still on target to complete the cataloguing of Abbotsford books before the new visitor centre opens in summer. The fully-restored house is scheduled to re-open in 2013.

Glasgow University: Julie Gardham (JG) reported that David Weston had now retired and his post will not be filled; Lesley Richmond, Director of the University Archives, was now in charge of Special Collections. The incunabula project is more than half way to completion and a major exhibition on incunabula is planned for the Hunterian Museum in 2014.

Strathclyde University: Victoria Peters reported that due to the closure of Jordanhill College, the library is absorbing the books and archives, some of which are not in good condition. Current work in the main library is causing dust problems. As part of the Whysman Festival, the library ran an exhibition on George Wylie. The library is in the process of setting up a Flickr account. 

Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh: Steven Kerr reported that the Joseph Bell archive, formerly on deposit, has been acquired by the College. The celebration of the Joseph Lister centenary had been a success. An e-book partnership is currently being investigated to produce an updated version of 'Portraits, paintings & busts in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh', originally published in 1995.

National Library of Scotland: BH reported that NLS is currently working with Aberdeen University Library on the transfer of the Blairs College Library collection, approximately 27,000 books, which should be complete in the autumn. The move has been requested by the Catholic Heritage Commission, Conference of Bishops and Blairs Museum Trust.  BH (and JM) is unaware of any plans to move other Catholic deposits from NLS. The English Broadside Ballad Archive has been awarded funding to digitise the pre-1801 Crawford English Ballads (on deposit at NLS) and other ballads from the NLS collection. An Edinburgh university research student working on book provenance, Karen Baston, has been awarded her PhD for her thesis on the library of Charles Erskine of Alva; her research has benefited the catalogues of both NLS and the Advocates Library. BH hopes that a copy of the thesis will be available in NLS soon. Two Edinburgh University MSc students have finished working on a project to add paper-based provenance information to the OPAC. The date for the opening of the new Special Collections Reading Room for manuscripts, rare books and music has been put back to September 2012. 

St Andrews University: Daryl Green reported that Elizabeth Henderson has gone on maternity leave for a year and he will take over her responsibilities from 1 June. Christine McGowan has been recruited to fill his post for a year. The staff and reading room are still in temporary accommodation while the main library is refurbished but the University is looking into the possibility of providing reading room facilities at a more suitable location in the town. The success of fundraising initiatives will affect how long the library is in temporary accommodation. An exhibition on the 400th anniversary of the King James Library is planned for the Gateway Galleries.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow: Andrew McAinsh reported that a Club 21 placement student has been digitising the Dr Cleghorn archive. Jack Davis reported that he has been given another nine-month contract to work on cataloguing. The cataloguing of modern books continues: more than a third have now been catalogued but it is proving difficult to provide an exact figure as the total number of books is not known. There will be an Incorporation of Gardeners' lecture on 16 May and a Goodall Symposium celebrating Joseph Lister on 29 May.

RCAHMS: Veronica Fraser reported that there is a new archive store at Murrayburn and that work continues to maximise space at Bernard Terrace and rationalise the search room books. All collections will be available again soon. Students are working on projects to improve catalogues and access. Updates on the RCAHMS review and possible merger with Historic Scotland are available on the website. 

Edinburgh University: JM reported that Sheila Cannell is retiring as Director of Library Services and that a successor will be appointed soon. Bill Bell, Director of the Centre for the History of the Book, is also leaving to take up a post at Cardiff University. Thanks to a major donation by the Rev Robert Funk, a project is being run at New College to complete the cataloguing of all the collections there by 2016. A Wellcome funded project, 'Towards Dolly: Edinburgh, Roslin and the birth of modern genetics' will run until 2014 to catalogue and preserve the archival records of the Roslin Institute. The redevelopment of the library building in George Square is almost complete and a new strong room is being built in the basement. The library has this year also received from the College of Humanities and Social Science a significant sum of money for the purchase of new books.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: Jane Hutcheon reported that the library has received funding for the conservation of collections and that the new rare book room is nearly finished. She announced that she will be retiring at the end of June and that she doesn't know as yet whether she will be replaced. She will pass on information about RBiS to the remaining staff. GH thanked her for her input to the group.

Innerpeffray Library: LH reported that 80% of the funding required to develop the ground floor below the library has been received. Half of the 400 Scottish first editions the library is to receive as a donation will arrive this year and the other half the next. The proceeds from some lots at Christie's Viscount Strathallan sale will be given to the library.

CERL: GH read a brief report from Anette Hagan, who represents NLS at CERL meetings. The hosting of the Heritage of the Printed Book database (HPB) had been discussed by the CERL Executive Committee in April and it was decided that CERL would not consent to having the HPB hosting contract transferred from OCLC to EBSCO. It has been agreed with OCLC that the HPB file loading will continue until in the course of 2012 this task can be taken on by the new host, and that the HPB database will continue to be available via FirstSearch until March 2013. Dr R. Diedrichs of the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund in Göttingen (GBV) has expressed an interest in taking on the hosting of the HPB in 2013. All CERL members were given the opportunity to put forward their suggestions for a possible HPB host by Friday 20 April 2012 in time for the CERL Directors' meeting on 23 April.


HV reported that she had attended a conference in St Ann's College, Oxford on the secularisation of monastic libraries, the proceedings of which are to be published. An interesting point was that the numbers often found in books from monasteries are not booksellers, but come from central depots where books were sent after secularisation in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are projects under way to use this provenance information to virtually reunite collections.

JM reported that the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society will soon be releasing Keith Manley's book 'Books, borrowers, and shareholders: Scottish circulating libraries before 1825'. Copies are distributed free to Society members. Contributions to the Society’s Journal and programme of talks are welcome. 

LL asked if the Centre for the History of the Book at Edinburgh University would be continuing following Bill Bell’s departure. JM answered that it would.

The meeting closed at 14.55 and GH offered the group's thanks once again to LH and asked members to contact him if they were able to host the next meeting.

Robert Betteridge
15 May 2012


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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