Minutes, 22 November 2012

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 22 November 2012, Mitchell Library


  • Robert Betteridge — NLS
  • Linda Burke — Mitchell Library
  • Jack Davis — Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow
  • Kristy Davis — Edinburgh University
  • Jill Evans — SCURL
  • Veronica Fraser — RCAHMS
  • Lara Haggerty — Innerpeffray Library
  • Mark Glancy — National Museums of Scotland
  • Graham Hogg — NLS
  • Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence — Edinburgh University
  • Lindsay Levy — Advocates Library
  • Andrew McAinsh — Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow
  • Ross McGregor — Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock
  • Robert MacLean — Glasgow University
  • Isobel McLellan — Mitchell Library
  • Karen O'Brien — Edinburgh Central Library
  • Helen Vincent — NLS

1. Apologies

  • Helen Beardsley — Stirling University
  • Sandra Cumming — Dunimarle Library at Duff House
  • Julie Gardham — Glasgow University
  • Daryl Green — St Andrews University
  • Anette Hagan — NLS
  • Brian Hillyard — NLS
  • Marian Kirton — Napier University
  • Iain Milne — Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh
  • Keith O'Sullivan — Aberdeen University
  • Victoria Peters — Strathclyde University
  • Marianne Smith — Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh

The business meeting was opened at 13.30 by Graham Hogg (GH). GH thanked the Mitchell Library for hosting the event, providing lunch and access to the Burns Room of the Library. He also thanked Enda Ryan for suggesting the Mitchell Library as a venue.

2. Minutes of previous meeting (10 May 2012)

The minutes of the meeting of 10 May 2012 were approved. GH thanked Robert Betteridge for taking the minutes of the last meeting.

3. Matters arising, not covered elsewhere on this agenda

Dundee Rare Book Librarianship Course: Brian Hillyard has contacted Caroline Brown about access to course material. Caroline will contact Julie Gardham, who had originally raised the question of access at a business meeting last year.

4. Future forum activities

4.1. Meetings

As ever, the convener is happy to hear from any member able to host a meeting. Jack Davis offered the RCPSG and Veronica Fraser RCAHMS.

4.2 Workshops 

The cataloguing and bibliographical format workshops could be run again at NLS if there was sufficient interest. Joe Marshall has offered Edinburgh University as a venue for an exhibitions workshop. Members can contact Joe with expressions of interest. Brian Hillyard's offer of another ESTC reporting workshop, preferably somewhere in the west (the previous two having been held in Aberdeen and Edinburgh) was still there. There was no response to Helen Vincent's (HV) question to the group as to which workshop would be preferred.

5. Rare book librarianship training

Both Linda Burke and Isobel McLellan are currently taking the course which is being tutored by HV this session. In contrast to previous iterations, most students are from Scotland. Feedback is needed from students in order to develop and improve the course which will be revised in summer 2013. HV drew attention to Alison Cullingford's 'The special collections handbook'.

HV raised the importance of being able to teach bibliographical format in a hands on way and asked if the group thought it acceptable for course alumni to attend RBIS workshops, even if they did not work in RBiS member organisations. It was agreed that it would be acceptable for non-RBiS alumni to take up any spare places at these workshops, with priority going to members; Jill Evans suggested that any invitations be accompanied by promotional material advertising the advantages of joining RBiS.

Mark Glancy asked when the next course would begin. HV replied January 2013 and reminded the group that any suitably qualified RBIS member could tutor the course.

6. Reports


SCURL: Jill Evans presented the SCURL report. In particular she spoke about the Walk In Access to e-resources funded project which she had managed. Mark Glancy, and Alistair Young, a Software Engineer of the UHI, collaborated and prepared the research and a toolkit respectively for the publication. The report illustrates best practice for institutions wishing to offer walk in access to e-resources. A copy of the SCURL report is available. The role of NLS in providing free access to e-resources to NLS cardholders based in Scotland was acknowledged.

CERL: GH delivered a report prepared by Anette Hagan, who had attended the most recent CERL AGM and seminar at the BL on 29-31 October.

CERL is exploring the possibility of forming a group of Scottish and northern English academic libraries. The group could possibly include e.g. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Napier, St Andrews and Aberdeen, as well as Manchester, Leeds, Durham and York. Annual membership is 8000 Euro per group.

CERL wants to move away from its perception as simply the host of the HPB (Heritage of the Printed Book) database and be seen as a consortium of libraries collaborating to integrate and make accessible their heritage collections internationally through the Thesaurus, Portal and Material Evidence in Incunabula database.

The main topic at the annual seminar on 30 October was digitisation. Presentations included planning digitisation projects, licensing models, Google Books and working with commercial partners. The following facts were of particular interest: the BL finances 90% of its digitisation projects through outside funding; of the than 20 million books scanned by Google, every six months more than 90% of these books are visited online; the Complutense Library in Madrid, who had 83% of their rare books scanned by Google, do their long-term preservation with the Hathi Trust. (The Powerpoint presentations for the seminar are available via the CERL website.)

Access to the HPB is restricted to member libraries for the time being. The HPB is currently hosted by OCLC but next March will be transferring to Göttingen University.

GH reported that Anette has been elected to the Executive Committee of CERL.

CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group: Robert Betteridge and Robert MacLean had attended the 2012 CILIP RBSCG Conference 'Speaking truth to power: Making special collections work in times of recession', held in Oxford. The common theme of the conference was that it is special collections which drive the fundraising and publicity which is vital to a library's success. The importance of speaking to the right people, having carefully arranged a strategy and brought in all relevant parties' is also essential to successful fundraising. Satisfyingly, conference speakers reported that donors prefer to speak to knowledgeable librarians when they visit libraries.

The 2013 conference will take place on 4-6 September in Canterbury, the topic is digitisation. The planned visit of CILIP members visit to see treasures of the NLS, planned on 14 November, had to be postponed because of the low number of applications. The event will be advertised again next year, maybe in the spring.

ESTC: GH delivered a brief report prepared by Brian Hillyard, who had attended the annual International ESTC Committee meeting at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The BL-hosted ESTC OPAC continues to be much used: searches for the year September 2011-August 2012 averaged 45,900 per month, up 400 per month from the previous year. The message from that is clear: if libraries want to benefit from this audience, they need to keep adding their holdings to ESTC. NLS is happy to provide advice and training on ESTC reporting.

IFLA: IFLA: HV reported on her attendance at IFLA 2012 which was held in Helsinki. There was an off-site day at the National Library of Finland for rare books and special collections librarians which proved to be very valuable. As with RBiS meetings, the Rare Books and Manuscripts sessions offered a chance for information exchange which showed that other libraries face similar problems to RBiS members in dealing with difficult economic times. HV mentioned in particular one library who said that a full economic costing showed the income generated by reprographics and permissions fees was not worth the staff time spent; the reconfiguration of Uppsala University Library special collections staff into a 'cultural heritage' team; one paper about how rare book collections which included modern material had to deal with born-digital items such as artists’ books; one of the 'summing-up' remarks made by the closing speaker was that off-site services are now clearly more important to rare book libraries than on-site services. HV also attended the on-site session on rare book cataloguing which included one paper which argued that Anglo-American rare book cataloguing standards are too complicated and should be simplified, and one paper about the French project to produce an on-line version of old printed catalogues using TEI rather than MARC cataloguing. Other papers at the conference discussed the need for libraries to make their records available using linked data so that they could be found online without going through a library catalogue search.

HV and Darryl Green from St Andrews both gave presentations at the off-site day: conference papers are available online on the IFLA website:

IFLA 2014 is in Lyon and will include another full day of rare book sessions: HV recommended attendance.

6.2. Forum members

Advocates Library: Lindsay Levy reported she has finished cataloguing the books from Abbotsford. Despite sending over a number of years files of unique items to ESTC, and having them reported as received, ESTC revealed that they could no longer find these circa 300 records. Lindsay is now working with John Lancaster (ESTC super-user) to add them again; the work should be finished before her retirement in 2013. The books are due to go back to Abbotsford at the end of March 2013, subject to buildings works there all being complete.

Burns Monument Centre: Ross McGregor introduced himself and the Burns Monument Centre. Ross is starting to sift special collection items from the main collection and looking at suitable storage options. Deficiencies in the local cataloguing system, which is not suited to recording special collections, have led him to use Library Thing to promote these items.

Edinburgh University: Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence reported that John Scally is now Director of Library Services. The Centre for Research Collections is to receive funds for conservation and internships. The library has received 20,000 volumes of file copies of the publishers Thomas Nelson. The CRC is trialling Saturday morning opening for a year, but with no fetching, only consultation of reserved material. Funds have been made available again for collection development fund, so EU is actively acquiring material. Kristy Davis reported on the Towards Dolly Project.

Glasgow University: Robert MacLean reported that the incunabula project has been held up by technical problems, but that 680 titles have been catalogued and 570 are on the website. There will be an exhibition at the Hunterian when the project is finished. The university has acquired the Edwin Morgan archive and a third has so far been catalogued, with more expected to be done in the next six months. Self-service photography has been running in the reading room on a trial basis. A CLA notice has been displayed, but staff do not accept signed forms from readers, as this puts responsibility back on to the institution. (GH raised the staffing problems of supervision, it was noted that EUL ask readers to sign forms.) There has recently been a showing of Luke Fowler's 'All divided selves' followed by a Q&A session. The film explores the life of R D Laing whose archive is held at the library and which was catalogued with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Innerpeffray Library: Lara Haggerty reported that the first boxes of a majordonation from the USA have arrived, contain 105 books and feature a mix of songs, poetry and drama and notably, a Duns Scotus incunable and Kilmarnock Burns. New shelves have been installed and secure 'bandit-proof' display cases. Lara is now looking for a cataloguer to catalogue the books. The library is due to open again on 1 March 2013 and there is a new web site on the way. The library is arranging a print on demand facsimile of its 1683 copy of 'The Scots gard'ner'.

Mitchell Library: Linda Burke and Isobel McLellan reported Enda Ryan’s retirement and that it is not yet known if she will be replaced. The library also lost two other librarians at the start of the year.

National Library of Scotland: GH and HV reported that the new special collections reading room (SCRR) is now open and that a survey of opening hours is under way. Restructuring is ongoing with some management posts still to be filled. Management of the SCRR is now the responsibility of a dedicated manager, rather than being the responsibility of special collections departments. NLS's music curator has joined with Rare Book Collections to form Rare Books and Music Collections. James Boyle has taken over from Michael Anderson as Chairman of the Trustees.

National Museums of Scotland: Mark Glancy introduced the library collections at NMS. There are circa 31,000 pre-1800 special collections items and circa 1800 dating from 1800-1850 in the lending collection, which is currently being worked on by volunteers. Books had been in off-site storage until the Chambers Street building re-opened to the public last year. There are 30,000 volumes on open shelves. Special collections are stored in cellars in the bottom of the building which has caused some environment problems. The library is looking into digitisation and there is already some material on SCRAN. The use of a promotional leaflet has seen reader numbers increase by 420%. Plans are in place to add the library collections to COPAC in 2013. Some displays have been put on to promote the collections and the library is also becoming more involved in major exhibitions. The exhibition on David Livingstone opens 23 November 2012 and runs until 7 April 2013.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow: Jack Davis reported that cataloguing is continuing and that the lower library is now complete. The college took part in Doors Open Day and put on a display of treasures. Displays have also been put on to support the Travel Medicine Faculty and new Podiatric Faculty. The college has launched a new commercial venture under the name Fifteen Ninety Nine.

Andrew McAinsh reported on a library digitisation project which has just begun, so far largely manuscript material has been digitised; RCPSG has put out a tender for hosting the site. He is currently investigating social media and the College should have a presence on Twitter soon. The college has been turned down for museum accreditation as it has no set opening hours for the public. To get around this a trial will be run in which the college is open one afternoon a week. Cataloguing is currently focused on recording unique items. The college featured on the COPAC blog which Andrew reported as a straightforward thing to take part in. The publicity resulted in one new volunteer.

RCAHMS: Veronica Fraser reported that the merger with Historic Scotland has been recommended to the minister and a business case is being discussed. Information is available online: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/news/hsandrcahms.htm. RCAHMS are currently working towards trusted digital repository status and working with the HLF for cataloguing funds.

7. Forum organisation

Membership remains constant at the mid-60s.

GH announced that he is stepping down as convener and that HV is taking over.

GH thanked the Mitchell Library once again for hosting the meeting. HV thanked GH for his work as convener.

The meeting closed at 15.25.

Robert Betteridge
5 December 2012


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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