Minutes, 11 October 2007

Rare Books in Scotland business meeting

Thursday 11 October 2007, Central Library, Edinburgh


  • Jill Evans (SCURL)
  • Bridget Bell (Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research)
  • Marianne Smith (Royal College of Surgeons)
  • Colin Duncan (Watt Library Greenock)
  • Julie Gardham (Glasgow University Library)
  • Elizabeth Henderson (St Andrews University Library)
  • Paulette Hill (Historic Scotland)
  • Brian Hillyard (National Library of Scotland)
  • Graham Hogg (National Library of Scotland, convenor)
  • Norma Aldred (RCHAMS)
  • Andrew Martin (National Museums of Scotland)
  • Jane Hutcheon (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh)
  • Anne Morrison (Edinburgh Central Library)
  • John Scally (Edinburgh University Library)
  • Ian Milne (Royal College of Physicians)
  • Helen Vincent (National Library of Scotland, minutes)
  • Helen Beardsley (University of Stirling)
  • Andrew Nicoll (Scottish Catholic Archives)
  • Norman Rodger (Edinburgh University Library)
  • Lindsay Levy (Advocates Library)
  • Karen O' Brien (Edinburgh Central Library).

Graham Hogg began by thanking Edinburgh Central Library staff for organising the event, and for the informative talks, tours and exhibition of material in the morning.


  • Ron Livingstone (Aberdeen City Libraries)
  • Marian Kirton (Napier University Library)
  • Alan Knox (Aberdeen University Library).

Minutes of previous meeting (8 March 2007)

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted. Graham Hogg thanked Helen Vincent for doing them.

3. Matters arising

3.1. 'Britain in print' project
Norman Rodger reported that over 38,000 new catalogue records had been created, with over 300 new editions discovered in the course of cataloguing. The website and outreach activities had also been very successful. EUL staff are happy to share with RBiS members experience of putting on outreach activities.

3.2. Scottish Chapbooks Project
Brian Hillyard reported that the web pages relating to the UK-wide project being run by the Bibliographical Society and the National Art Library, V&A, were not yet available.

3.3. ESTC

Brian Hillyard reported that there are encouraging statistics showing increased use of ESTC via the BL web OPAC. Up to 60,000 searches a month had been recorded. ESTC was now cross-searchable with COPAC using a trial interface.

4. Forum update

4.1. Organisation and forum membership
Graham Hogg reported that membership and numbers of people on the JISC mailing list had remained the same. Sheila Noble was shortly leaving EUL to take up a new post at Queen Margaret University Library and Norman Rodger has taken over in the interim as the JISC mailing list owner from the HE sector until Sheila's successor is appointed. GH thanked Sheila and Norman for their help with the mailing list.

4.2. Promotion
Graham Hogg had written a brief article on RBiS which appeared in the June 2007 issue of 'Information Scotland'. RBiS had in the end not been directly involved in the ELISA Edinburgh Festival of Libraries, held on 6 October 2007, but a number of staff working in RBiS member institutions had contributed to the event.

5. Future forum activities

5.1. Meetings
The next meeting will be in the Mitchell Library (subject to confirmation) in apring 2008, followed by the autumn meeting in the NLS, during the run of the NLS exhibition on 500 years of printing in Scotland. It will not be possible to hold the autumn meeting to coincide with the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group residential study conference, as had been hoped, but the meeting can hopefully be accommodated before the exhibition ends. Iain Milne offered to host a business meeting in 2008 if there were problems with venues. John Scally indicated that Edinburgh University would be able to host a meeting in 2009 as building work on the Research Centre in the Main Library will be completed by then. Any offers to host future meetings are, as ever, gratefully received.

5.2. Workshops
There had been no new workshops since the last meeting. The next one was on heraldry which will be held in St Andrews University next month, thanks to Elizabeth Henderson. Next year there will be another Latin for rare book librarians workshop in NLS, and, subject to demand, the annual cataloguing and bibliography workshop at NLS in early 2008. Brian Hillyard confirmed that there will also be a workshop on 23 January 2008 on Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books) (DCRM(B)), organised by the UK Bibliographic Standards Committee of the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group, which will be held at the NLS. The workshop, which costs £25 to attend, is aimed at people already familiar with DCRB, and places can be booked via CILIP. John Scally confirmed that EUL would be willing to host a workshop on disaster planning later in 2008

6. Scotland and Europe

Norman Rodger reported, in response to the call for information in August, that six completed forms had been received from RBiS members, along with three sets of figures for holdings of 18th-century foreign books. A further three sets were expected. Anyone still wishing to get involved could send in forms so long as they arrived before the end of October. The data gathered will be used to write a synopsis for project funding. John Scally, Brian Hillyard and Norman Rodger will meet to discuss the data and work on the synopsis. Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) can then look at possible sources of European funding for the project.

7. Rare book librarianship training issue

Brian Hillyard reported on the latest developments. He and Graham Hogg had met with Caroline Brown and Pat Whatley of Dundee University in July to discuss DU hosting a rare books module as part of their distance learning programmes relating to archives and information management. The rare book module would be a 13-week 20-credit postgraduate module, with credits being transferable to other degree courses run by Scottish universities. The Dundee option meets most of RBiS's objectives and seems too good an opportunity to miss. January 2009 is the most realistic date to think of introducing the module. he two main issues to be resolved are, who writes the module and who tutors it. Either one person writes and one teaches it, or it could be a collaborative effort, drawing on the appropriate experience of RBiS members.

As an initial step, £1,000 of funding has been secured from SCURL for developing a framework for the rare books training module. BH thanked Jill Evans of SCURL for bringing this funding opportunity to our attention. The money will be used to employ someone to carry out web-based and literature research on the contents of relevant training courses available elsewhere, collect information about in-house training carried out in the larger Scottish university and research libraries and about RBiS workshops, conduct a limited amount of market research among managers and employees and in the voluntary sector, and create a framework of training needs. The work has to be completed by 31 July 2008, with Jill receiving reports on progress. Carrying out this research could be seen as a potential career development opportunity. BH had put out an email on the RBiS mailing list in September inviting anyone interested in carrying out the research to get in touch and had received some expressions of interest. Discussion followed of the various possibilities for writing and tutoring the module and how it would be delivered within DU's virtual learning environment. September 2008, the start of the academic year, was also suggested as a better starting point. It was agreed that the working group looking at the issue (Brian Hillyard, John Scally, Elizabeth Henderson, Marianne Smith, Andrew Nicoll) should discuss how best to use the SCURL funding

8. 2008 Scottish Year of the Printed Word

Brian Hillyard reported on the most recent events publicising 2008. There had been a successful media event to mark the granting of the patent to Chepman and Myllar in September 1507. Brian had also spoken on 500 years of printing at the Edinburgh Festival of Libraries. As well as the '500 years of printing in Scotland' website, Helen Williams has been employed as programme manager (hwilliams@500yearsofprinting.org). Helen is based at the Scottish Print Employers Federation office in Edinburgh and is collecting details of forthcoming events, and producing a regular newsletter. A brochure is to be produced in January which will outline events for the coming year. Anyone planning anything should please contact Helen as soon as possible. The next related event is the opening of the exhibition at Napier University, 'Bound for Glory: the Bible as Book in Scotland', on 12 October. A formal dinner will be held at the Playfair Library (Edinburgh University) on 4 April 2008 to mark the 500 years anniversary, journalist and former newspaper editor Magnus Linklater will be the guest of honour. The CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group study conference will be held 10-12 September 2008 in Edinburgh, being based at the Royal College of Surgeons; there will be optional visits to Abbotsford and Traquair House. Events such as World Book Day and National Poetry Day were good opportunities to put Scottish books on display.


In November there will be displays of early French books from the collections of St Andrews University Library and NLS in the Lyon & Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh and in the NLS to mark the launch of 'French Vernacular Books', a complete catalogue of all books in French and printed in France prior to 1601 compiled by the research team based at the Reformation Studies Institute of St Andrews University.

Graham Hogg concluded by thanking again Anne Morrison, Karen O'Brien and their colleagues at the Central Library for hosting the meeting.


Graham Hogg
26 November 2007


Rare Books in Scotland meeting minutes

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