Minutes, 30 May 2013

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 30 May 2013, Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen University


  • Helen Beardsley — Stirling University
  • Robert Betteridge (minutes) — National Library of Scotland (NLS)
  • Thomas Connelly — NLS
  • Kristy Davis — Edinburgh University
  • June Ellner — Aberdeen University
  • Veronica Fraser — RCAHMS
  • Michelle Gait — Aberdeen University
  • Julie Gardham — Glasgow University
  • Mark Glancy — National Museums of Scotland
  • Graham Hogg — NLS
  • Steven Kerr — Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Marian Kirton — Napier University
  • Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence — Edinburgh University
  • Andrew McAinsh — Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Christine Megowan — St Andrews University
  • Lorna Mitchell — Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • Keith O'Sullivan — Aberdeen University
  • Jane Pirie — Aberdeen University
  • Helen Vincent (convener) — NLS

1. Apologies for absence

  • Yvonne Barclay — Aberdeen City Libraries
  • Sandra Cumming — Dunimarle Library at Duff House
  • Jill Evans — SCURL
  • Lara Haggerty — Innerpeffray Library
  • Brian Hillyard — NLS
  • Ross McGregor — Burns Monument Centre
  • Iain Milne — Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Karen O'Brien — Edinburgh City Libraries
  • Victoria Peters — Strathclyde University
  • Lesley Richmond — Glasgow University
  • Marianne Smith — Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

The business meeting was opened at 13.35 by Helen Vincent (HV). Those present introduced themselves and HV read out the list of those sending apologies.

2. Minutes of previous meeting (22 November 2012)

The minutes of the meeting of 22 November 2012 were accepted.

3. Matters arising, not covered elsewhere on this agenda

There were no matters arising not covered by the agenda.

4. Future forum activities

4.1 Meetings

The autumn 2013 meeting is to be held at RCAHMS and the spring 2014 at RCPSG. Julie Gardham (JG) suggested a 2015 meeting at Glasgow University on completion of the Glasgow Incunabula Project. HV thanked those who had offered to host meetings.

4.2 Workshops

There is not currently enough interest to run a cataloguing workshop. Those few who had expressed an interest are, for the most part, working in university libraries with experienced cataloguers from whom they could receive training; however it was noted that Andrew McAinsh would like training and is not in this situation.

Christine Megowan (CM) asked if colleagues had adopted the new standards for serials. There was little expression of any regular serials cataloguing being undertaken by those present.

JG asked whether colleagues were beginning to implement RDA. HV mentioned NLS plans to gradually train cataloguers in RDA, that the 2014 revision of DCRM(B) would bring it into line with RDA, and that discussions on LIS-RAREBOOKS offer advice on RDA. HV added that the CILIP RBSCG Bibliographical Standards group does not recommend rare book cataloguers to rush to change until the DCRM(B) revision. Robert Betteridge (RB) noted that there currently seems to be a wait-and-see attitude with no incentive to change for the moment. He suggested that members of the group report back on progress within their institutions and that an RDA workshop could be held in the future.

Jane Pirie (JP) thought that a workshop on graphic materials cataloguing would be useful. HV suggested that those with particular expertise in areas outside DCRMB may wish to lead on running workshops for these areas. There were no expressions of interest in doing this. Joe Marshall has not suggested a date for any 'writing for exhibitions' workshop. Helen Beardsley, Lorna Mitchell (LM) and Angela Schofield (AS) expressed an interest in attending this workshop.

HV noted that Brian Hillyard (BH) would promote another ESTC matching workshop and she, and RB, explained how these have been run previously. AS asked if there would be another Latin for Rare Book Librarians workshop. HV replied that BH would run one given sufficient interest. Andrew McAinsh expressed an interest in attending a cataloguing and Latin workshop. HV to ask BH about this.

4.3 10 years of RBiS

HV gave some background to RBiS and highlighted that 2014 would see the group's 10th anniversary. In order to publicise the group and members' collections she suggested the creation of a flickr image set to which colleagues could add images from their library's collections. Julie Gardham (JG) thought it a good opportunity to show the diversity of collections held. HV asked for volunteers to help co-ordinate the project. RB thought it useful to co-ordinate so that the page is not dominated by examples of early printing. CM volunteered to work with HV to produce the flickr site. LM thought it important that there is a good story to serve as a 'hook' to attract interest. HV suggested the use of data on visitors, exhibitions, etc. but acknowledged that this would not be easy to gather. HV also sees it as a way to attract more members and to raise the public profile of current members. The project will be an agenda item for the next meeting.

5. Rare book librarianship training

HV reported that the Dundee module is coming to the end of its second year of teaching. The next sessions would begin in September 2013 and January 2014. There are usually five to 10 students on the course who are mostly from outwith Scotland. NLS may not have the staffing capacity to allow a curator to teach the course next year and members who could suggest any potential teachers, including recently retired rare book librarians, are asked to do so. HV has attended a teaching meeting at Dundee. JG asked if the teaching was done on work time and how much time it took up. HV replied that while NLS staff teach as part of their job, many other Dundee tutors teach in their own time. The module lasts 14 weeks and takes no more than two days a week to teach.

6. Forum organisation

HV reported that the forum has 34 organisations as members and that there are 69 individual subscribers to the mailing list.

7. AOB

HV had received a question from Karen O'Brien (KO'B) who asked if members have experience of using Knowledge Hub. LM reported that she was familiar with it, receiving weekly summaries of discussion and using it for records management. However it appears to be under threat due to funding issues and there was not a huge amount of activity on the site. HV questioned whether RBiS should have a presence on the site. LM reiterated the concerns over the site's future and noted that members have to sign up and be approved before being able to post. HV will discuss with KO'B.

RBiS meeting closed at 2.15.


Joint meeting with SUSCAG

At 14.20 the following colleagues from SUSCAG joined the meeting:

  • Siobhán Convery — Aberdeen University
  • Stuart Harris-Logan — Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Rachel Hart — St Andrews University
  • Kirsty Lee — St Andrews University
  • Moira Rankin — Glasgow University
  • Helen Taylor — Heriot Watt University

1. Introductions

There was another round of introductions.

2. Reports


SCURL: HV introduced Jill Evans's (JE) SCURL report (attached below) and noted the 'Communities of Practice' and 'single Library Management System' items. Colleagues interested in these should contact JE. Siobhán Convery (SC) will distribute the SCURL report to SUSCAG.

CERL: HV introduced Anette Hagan's CERL report. Cristina Dondi of CERL had sent an email to some Scottish universities offering CERL membership as part of a Scottish group. SC gave an update on discussions between RLUK and CERL about possible RLUK-wide membership: at the time of the meeting RLUK were looking to go back to CERL to renegotiate the offer. JG asked what the benefits of CERL membership were when a lot of material is already freely available. HV said that speaking from her own point of view, membership: allows meeting attendance, giving introductions to European libraries working in different languages and with different systems, provides opportunities to steer projects and have an international presence, and access to HPB records. Those who were members noted that membership was not just about having access to CERL resources but also having the right to vote and to be elected to CERL committees. HV added that CERL is developing a manuscripts portal and an incunabula provenance database and that it has recently taken over the Europe-wide Security Working Group from LIBER. SC had attended a CERL conference at the British Library and was impressed by cross-European projects, but noted the lack of UK libraries. The costs of CERL membership were discussed. HV noted that the CERL website shows what is on offer. Graham Hogg pointed out that CERL has competition, e.g. WorldCat is a free service. Rachel Hart noted that the St Andrews' membership had been secured by academic staff. HV concluded by stating that NLS does not have an official position on promoting membership to other libraries.

CILIP RBSCG: HV reported that she has joined the committee and has a remit to liaise with RBiS. However, as RBiS has no budget while CILIP RBSCG charges for events as a matter of course, collaborative events may be difficult to arrange. All members are asked to support and encourage other colleagues to attend the 2014 CILIP RBSCG conference in Aberdeen, which will take place August 27-29 and will be about library buildings and facilities.


Aberdeen University: Chris Banks will be leaving in mid-August to take up a post at Imperial College London. Plans for succession are not yet clear. Collection level records and web pages have been revamped. An intern will be working over the summer on a project to digitise graduation rolls. The Blairs College Library collection will be moving from NLS around September or October. The library is also taking the Scottish Catholic Archives and an NHS archive. The current exhibition 'Wanderlust: travel journals and explorers' notes' runs until 7 September.

Advocates Library: Lindsay Levy has retired but is still involved with Abbotsford. Before retiring she was able to finish re-reporting ESTC material and complete the cataloguing of Abbotsford library. The collection has almost entirely been returned to Abbotsford and the house will open to the public again in July. Lindsay will not be replaced, as the Faculty has very little left to catalogue. A project is being established to catalogue Advocates Library material held at NLS. It was noted that there are thousands of session papers still to be catalogued, though the Forbes session papers have been digitised and some papers are indexed in an Excel spreadsheet.

St Andrews University: Currently developing digitisation programme and developing website. The library is still based on six sites and working in temporary accommodation. The library will open a reading room in a disused church. External funding to raise money towards the refurbishment of the library building is on-going. Elizabeth Henderson will be back from maternity leave in mid-June. Daryl Green is working on a six issue magazine to highlight the collections. New acquisitions include those of the philologist E V Gordon and the librarian Geoff Hargreaves. The website of the photographic collection has been developed. The library is to host an exhibition featuring the maces of other universities.

Edinburgh University: The library has acquired the file copies of the publisher Thomas Nelson. Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence is now an assistant curator. The refurbishment of the library is very nearly finished. The library has acquired a collection of original artwork by Yolanda Sonnabend created to illustrate developmental biologist Conrad Hal Waddington's work.

Napier University: The university's principal is retiring. There are on-going building works, including library refurbishment. The School of Arts and Creative Industries is now based on a single site. The English Literature department is acquiring material relating to Robert Louis Stevenson. The Edward Clark collection is still unavailable.

RCHAMS: The implications for the collections following the merger with Historic Scotland are being investigated. The library is currently working towards trusted digital repository and archive accreditation. Some early photographs of East Lothian have been acquired. Planning is under way to commemorate the First World War centenary. HV noted that Historic Scotland is not an RBiS member.

National Museums Scotland: Cataloguing volunteers have nearly finished their work. A bid for funding to digitise the manuscripts of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is under way. The online catalogue has been rearranged to highlight special collections. A Francis Bacon book is part of the current exhibition Amazing Amber. The next exhibition will be 'Mary, Queen of Scots' and will include material from NLS. A contemporary art exhibition by Ilana Halperin called 'The Library' runs until the end of September. The records store has been refurbished.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: LM reported that she had been in post since January and is currently developing new policies including for archives. She requested that colleagues share their collection management policies to aid RBGE. Security issues are being resolved with the introduction of CCTV, swipe card access and the removal of more material to secure storage. There is now a self-service scanner in the reading room. There is an exhibition on nature prints in Inverleith House. Conservation work is on-going. Internal funding has been sought for rare book cataloguing. LM asks for feedback on colleagues' experiences of open source cataloguing software. LM noted that the RBGE disaster plan needs revision. HV suggested contacting Joe Marshall who has recently carried out similar work.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow: The library disaster plan has been updated. Jack Davis left at the end of March and cataloguing has been much reduced since. An application to have the basement refurbished has failed but will be looked into again. Cleaners have been working on stored books. There is an exhibition on the 'Incorporation of Gardeners of Glasgow'. The college will hold the Goodall Symposium on 6 June. New web pages showing digitised images have been developed in-house. The adopt-a-book scheme is now taking partial donations towards the cost of conservation.

NLS: Thomas Connelly reported that he had been in post as Special Collections Reading Room Manager for seven months. A high staff turnover has seen the loss of expertise among Special Collections Assistants. RB reported that NLS is developing a new strategy document with input from staff. NLS is now operating electronic legal deposit. Forthcoming exhibitions include: 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Miniature books' and NLS is currently celebrating the anniversaries of the production of the Iona Psalter and the foundation of the Iona Community. Future exhibitions will include 'Plagues and pandemics' and 'Waverley'. It was noted that, despite some reports in the USA press, NLS had not given a signed copy of the first edition of George Washington's letters to the library at Mount Vernon, Virginia' but that this was an exhibition loan.

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: Renovations are on-going. There is an application to HLF at stage two which includes environmentally controlled storage for special collections, lift access to library users and refurbishment of the museum. RCSE has received a Wellcome Trust grant to develop promotion of archive holdings. A commissioned report noted that though the archive was highly rated, and an organic and growing part of the organisation, access needed to be improved. Employment of an archivist would be dependent on HLF application.

Heriot Watt University: Museum and archive collections catalogued online on CalmView. Paintings on BBC 'Your paintings' website.

Stirling University: Forth Valley Health records have been cleaned by student volunteers. The Leighton Library catalogue is now in COPAC and ESTC and will be in the HPB in the autumn.

Glasgow University: Pilot scheme to allow readers to take their own photographs in the reading room is going well. The completion of the incunabula project is still on target for next year and CERL have used provenance data. The library has acquired the papers of Louise Annand and Jane Duncan. The cataloguing of Edwin Morgan collection is continuing. Special Collections are working more closely together. The Wellcome Digital Library website 'Codebreakers: Makers of modern genetics' is live, with 60,000 images. The Lloyds TSB archive has been returned to Bank of Scotland.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD): Archive has only existed for two years. Contents include Jimmy Logan, Robert Minter, BBC productions, and will soon include Scottish Opera. Stuart Harris-Logan reported that the other half of his job is museum curation of musical instruments. An exhibition on pantomime dames is forthcoming. The current principal is retiring in 2014.

HV closed the meeting at 15.30 thanking those who attended and Aberdeen for hosting. She also noted that it would be beneficial for RBiS and SUSCAG to have overlapping meetings in the future.


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes


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