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Microsoft Teams meeting.
Present: Simon Learoyd (Chair — SL), Helen Durndell (Vice Chair — HD), Noreen Adams (NA), Elizabeth Carmichael (EC), Ruth Crawford QC (RC), Dianne Haley (DH), Alan Horn (AH), Iain Marley (IM), Lesley McPherson (LMcP), Adrienne Scullion (AS), Amina Shah (ASh), Melissa Terras (MT), Robert Wallen (RW)
In attendance: Matt Jackson QC, Faculty of Advocates (MJ), John Scally (National Librarian — JS), Anthony Gillespie (Director of Business Support — AG), Jackie Cromarty (Associate Director of External Relations — JCr), Jan Usher (TUS Representative — JU) and Kathy Hutton (Board Support and Compliance Officer — KH). Part-time: Janet Stewart (JSt), Stuart Lewis (SLe); John Coll (JC), Martin Sinclair, Gardiner & Theobald (MS), Graham Ross, Austin-Smith: Lord (GR). Observing: Mark Butler & Andrew Hughes, Good Governance Institute
Minutes of meeting
1. Chair's welcome
The Chair welcomed all to the meeting including Jan Usher attending on behalf of the Trade Unions and Matt Jackson QC on behalf of the Faculty of Advocates.
The Chair also welcomed Mark Butler and Andrew Hughes from the Good Governance Institute (GGI) who have been appointed to undertake an independent Board Effectiveness review. Their attendance is in an observation capacity as one element of their review process.
During opening remarks, the Chair highlighted:
- The Library continues to respond well to the various challenges presented by Covid-19 with the National Librarian due to provide an update later in the meeting.
- Janet Stewart, Head of HR, will present on some important work already started on ‘changing work patterns’ as a result of Covid-19. This is also under review by the S&R Committee as part of their remit.
- The Scottish Government's budget is due to be published on 28 January 2021. The Library continues to be in discussion with the Scottish Government (SG) on the 2021/22 budget.
- Melissa Terras has been re-appointed for a further year and welcomed that the Board would continue to benefit from Melissa’s expertise, especially around digital.
- Recruitment of a Board Chair and five Board members is due to begin during 2021.
- Presentations by Library staff in advance of the formal Board agenda will resume from March 2021. Alison Stevenson, Head of Moving Image and Sound Collections, will be invited to provide an update on Kelvin Hall including future plans.
- The Chair asked the Librarian to provide any appropriate update to Board members following discussions with the SG on 26 November.
2. Apologies for absence
3. Declarations of interests
The Chair requested any declarations be made at the appropriate time in the agenda.
4. Horizon scanning
The Board noted Brexit, Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and SG Culture Strategy remain ongoing areas that may have an impact on future Library activities.
AG advised the Library’s ‘Brexit’ group has met regularly over the last two/three years and continues to do so. The group has focused on three main areas of risk for the Library after the UK leaves the EU trading block on 31 December 2020 - (1) trading relationship - VAT, imports, (2) data protection and data flow across borders, and (3) public procurement. The Library regularly reviews Scottish Government (SG) guidance as well as taking advice from tax advisors in order to mitigate these risks.
5. Minutes of the meeting of 30 September 2020
The Board approved the minutes (BM/20/48).
6. Actions outstanding and matters arising from previous meetings
The Board noted the action status.
7. National Librarian’s Report
JS introduced paper BM/20/50 highlighting:
- The Library buildings presently have different operating situations as Kelvin Hall is now within a Tier 4 area. Kelvin Hall was closed to the public from 20 November with activity scaled back to reduce staff travel into the building. A small number of staff attend onsite only when essential. As with all Library buildings, Kelvin Hall operates within the guidelines to minimise the risk of COVID -19 transmission.
- One Third Digital on site: Activity on this restarted in July with digitisation of a further 350 volumes from the Antiquarian Books of Scotland collection as well as a collection of over 1,700 Scottish Chapbooks.
- The Mass Digitisation Team won the Wikimedia UK Partnership of the Year 2020 award for the Library’s work on the Wikisource OCR corrections during lockdown thanks to the involvement of over 70 staff across the Library.
- Three Digital Copies for Preservation: The Library is now storing three separate copies of our digital preservation data in three separate locations. This is a key milestone for the Library and achieved through strong collaboration across the Library as well as SG financial support.
- ‘Struggles for Liberty – African American Revolutionaries in the Atlantic World: Online learning resources with downloadable content for Higher History are due to go live in February 2021 (Frederick Douglass’ birthday month / Black History Month in the US).
- ‘Wee Windaes’ received a Scottish Language Award – Project of the Year category 2020.
JCr advised the ‘Petticoats and Pinnacles’ and ‘Henrietta Liston’ exhibitions are now rescheduled to open during the first half of 2021. These have been programmed in anticipation that there will be a significant relaxation of Covid 19 restrictions by then.
JCr also advised that the Treasures Gallery design and build work will be completed shortly. Again, the opening has now been scheduled for the first half of 2021 to allow the new space to open with less prospect of having to close temporarily due to Covid 19 restrictions.
The Chair thanked JS, JCr and all Library staff for another interesting report highlighting some of the good work of Library staff.
The Board noted the three digital copies for future digital preservation of collections places the Library very favourably internationally. The Board also noted the Library is gathering both physical and digital collections of Covid-19 related materials, to provide a comprehensive resource for Scotland to reflect back on this period and for various forms of research and publications.
8. Library Plan Update – 2020/21 – Q2
JS introduced paper BM/20/51 advising the Key Indicators and targets continue to receive careful scrutiny throughout the Library. These are assigned to a member of staff, typically an Associate Director, to ensure active management. The dashboard is reviewed by the Library Leadership Team (LLT) and, where necessary, actions are agreed to keep the Plan on track. Results are also placed on the Library’s website to offer transparency.
JS advised there were some significant areas of progress during Quarter Two such as the recruitment of six new interns. However, some projects such as the ‘Scottish Newspapers’ project had to be temporarily paused because of Covid-19.
AG advised that five targets at ‘Red’ which means they are not going to be achieved in the year. This reflects that Library buildings were closed for a large part of the year. However, given the ongoing restrictions placed on all organisations, this is considered a reasonable situation at this midpoint of the year. One Key Indicator assessed as ‘Amber’ – Growth in Collections – is likely to improve with a surge of material expected to be received before Christmas.
The Board noted the report and that more varied Key Indicators in relation to digital reach will start to appear in the 2021/22 Library Plan. The Board recognised that, whilst the ‘Staff Engagement’ Key Indicator was assessed as ‘Red’ due to the removal of non-core Civil Service organisations from access to the engagement survey, the Library had already undertaken additional work in this area including an internal staff survey undertaken earlier in the year with a further survey scheduled by year end.
The Chair advised that Committee updates would form part of the agenda going forward as a means of providing greater visibility at the Board of the work of the Board Committees.
9. Audit Committee (AC) Chair update
- The Whistleblowing Policy has been reviewed and remains fit for purpose. A Bill is due to clear the UK Parliament by end 2021 intended to offer greater protection to whistle-blowers. The Library’s Policy will be reviewed following the outcome of the Bill.
- Internal audit: The status of implementation of management actions is in good order. The March 2021 Board will receive an update from recent audits as well as sight of the forward audit plan for 2021/22, providing Board members with an opportunity to input to the AC’s review of the plan.
- A procurement exercise for facilities management is at an early stage but is in good shape and heading in the right direction. The tender scoring system will be reviewed by the AC before coming to the Board for review.
- The Treasury Management and Investment Policy will be reviewed next year. The AC was reassured that existing investment risk appetite parameters are in line with our peer group however, further consideration of these will be undertaken alongside a comprehensive review of the Policy.
Melissa Terras temporarily left the meeting.
10. Governance Committee (GC) Chair update
- Good Governance Institute (GGI) have now been appointed to undertake the independent Board Effectiveness Review with Mark Butler and Andrew Hughes attending today’s meeting as a start review process. The Board will have the opportunity to review the final report and recommendations in March 2021. The output from the review will also be useful for the forthcoming Chair and Board member recruitment.
- GGI will undertake a survey of Board members during December followed by one to one interviews with both Board members and selected Library officers. ASh thanked Board members in advance for their time in participating in the review.
11. Staffing & Remuneration (S&R) Committee Chair update
- S&R received a full briefing on youth employability at their last meeting following the update to the Board in September. As previously mentioned six new interns had been appointed and the Library continues to make good progress in this area.
- Equality Mainstreaming reports will be received by S&R in the first half of 2021. JCr is leading an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Task and Finish Group to expand on work in this area.
- S&R had received sight of an expanded Safeguarding Policy now covering young people, children and vulnerable adults, with the appointment also of two Safeguarding Officers. S&R have sought clarification of the governance aspects of this policy in relation to the role of the Board. This is to ensure there is no delay in any incident reporting whilst ensuring Board members are kept appraised appropriately. HD will provide an update to the next Board.
The Chair thanked the Committee Chairs for their comprehensive updates which helped to demonstrate the breadth of work of the Board Committees.
Janet Stewart (JSt) joined the meeting.
12. Changing Working Patterns – Covid 19
JSt advised an overview was provided to the S&R Committee in October. Accelerated use of technology has been evidenced by those working from home with the digital team providing support by the escalated roll out of IT equipment and supporting guidance. A staff digital skills survey is due to be take place shortly to ascertain what future support staff may need.
A staff survey was carried out earlier in the year when most staff remained working from home. A similar staff survey is due to be rolled out by year end. This will include additional questions extracted from the previous Civil Service survey which the Cabinet Office have advised is no longer available to Non Departmental Public Bodies. However, results from the Civil Service survey will be available to the Library allowing for benchmarking with previous years, as well as planned benchmarking with peer organisations.
A limited number of internal staff appointments were completed during the lockdown period. Since the re-opening of the Library buildings there has been a slight increase in recruitment. The recruitment has focussed on vacancies within key Library functions and where there is the opportunity for meaningful induction and support to take place, otherwise the vacancies are pending.
A Working from Home Task and Finish Group has been established to develop a policy to support staff working from home on an interim basis e.g. Covid 19 lockdown. There is trade union representation on this Group.
The Group is also considering a longer-term policy to reflect the changes that are happening across working patterns whilst striking a balance between the positive elements of working from home and of working together in the office environment. The results from the second staff survey will be considered in the development of this policy which will presented to the S&R Committee.
The Chair thanked JSt for the update and the Board noted the report. The Board agreed it would be useful for the S&R Committee to consider whether opportunities may be available to recruit from a larger geographical base for certain roles through use of increased use of home working.
Janet Stewart left the meeting. Melissa Terras re-joined the meeting.
13. Quarter 2 Finance Report 2020/21
AG provided a brief overview of paper BM/20/53 advising
- The position at the end of September 2020 is a deficit of £452k. This is better than the deficit of £577k which was expected at this point of the financial year. It is anticipated the Library will break even at the end of the financial year.
- The SG budget is due to be published on 28 January 2021. Following this, the Audit Committee will review the Library’s proposed 2021/22 budget before providing the Committee’s recommendation to the Board..
- Estates Team have largely been focused on getting the Library buildings ready for re-occupation in the first half of the year. As a result, there was reduced spend on Estates projects over the first six months. However, it is expected that spending will increase significantly over the next few months as the department completes project which were temporarily postponed due to lockdown.
- There has been a recovery in the value of the funds managed under the investment policy since the end of the year.
- The Chair thanked AG for the update. IM advised the Audit Committee had noted the Library continues to proactively review budgets on a monthly basis.
The Board noted that the Library’s finances were presently in reasonable financial shape notwithstanding Covid and noted the report.
Noreen Adams left the meeting.
14. Strategic Risk Register (SRR)
AG provided an overview of paper BM/20/54 advising that the Audit Committee had reviewed the SRR at its last meeting alongside the Corporate Risk Register (CRR). AG highlighted:
- S1 - Significant damage or loss to collection. The Library continues to be outside the current agreed risk appetite which continues to be assessed as ‘Low/Medium’ risk compared to the agreed ‘Low’ appetite. This remains largely due to work required in the main Library buildings to upgrade a number of collection protections systems. This is a long-term issue requiring funding over a number of years.
- S2 - Loss or interruption of service. The risk assessment for this was previously increased to ‘Medium’ since at the time the Library was closed for physical services. This was outside the accepted risk appetite of ‘Low/Medium’. However, this had subsequently been brought back to ‘Low/Medium’ following the buildings re-opening. Since the paper was written, Kelvin Hall is now in a Tier 4 area and closed to the public. Covid-19 preparatory work for Library buildings during the initial lockdown along with Business Continuity Plans have assisted in mitigating this risk.
IM advised that the Audit Committee (AC) had scrutinised the SRR at its recent meeting, alongside sight of the CRR. The AC was satisfied that the right level of attention is given to risks and prioritisation by the Library’s Leadership Team. The AC recognised it was important for an open culture of risk management to exist within the Library and asked for this to be conveyed within the Library accordingly.
During Board discussion, it was agreed:
- Consideration be given at the next Audit Committee to use of the wording ‘moderate chance’ within the risk categorisation. AG advised this was intended to reflect the balance of likelihood versus impact within the risk criteria but would take this forward with the Committee.
- S2 – Loss or interruption of service: The Board agreed the proposed ‘Low/Medium’ risk assessment recognised that the Library continues to offer public services both onsite and online, with Kelvin Hall also still able to offer an online service. AG confirmed the risk assessment will be reviewed again by the LLT if the Tier 4 level applicable to Kelvin Hall is extended beyond 11 December.
The Chair thanked AG for the update and the Board noted the report.
Stuart Lewis (SLe) joined the meeting.
15. Cyber security update
SLe provided an overview of the paper advising:
- Updates continue to be provided to the Audit Committee on both cyber security and the Library’s work towards achieving Cyber Essential Plus (CEP) accreditation. The Library is taking a longer-term approach to cyber security, rather than working solely towards Cyber Essentials Plus, as a means to achieving more sustainable improvements to infrastructure.
- An external review exercise is underway to identify any further work required to achieve CEP by end 2021. This will acknowledge some specific challenges for the Library such as separation of former shared services arrangements.
- The nature of cyber risks is changing due to the impact of Covid-19 including increased home working. Evidence seems to support that staff are alert to possible cyber-attacks and are aware of, and follow, the relevant procedures if they have any concerns.
During Board discussion, SLe confirmed:
- Digital security forms part of Business Continuity Plans with guidance also taken from organisations such as the National Cyber Security Centre.
- The digital roadmap, comprising a rolling 3-year plan, is updated annually with focus on infrastructure/services as appropriate, for example a review is underway on how best to support staff to expand their digital skills.
The Chair thanked SLe for the update. The Board noted the extensive work undertaken by the digital team during lockdown and since. The Board noted that from this update, and previous presented papers, there appears to be a clear digital direction and framework. SLe was asked to provide a further update to the June 2021 Board.
Stuart Lewis left the meeting.
16. Health & Safety (H&S) report
The Board noted that the Chair of the Library’s H&S Committee rotated annually and Anthony Gillespie was now Committee Chair. AG advised one incident had been reported since the last Board update and the appropriate procedure followed.
The Board noted the report.
John Coll (JC); Martin Sinclair, Gardiner & Theobald (MS); Graham Ross, Austin-Smith: Lord (GR) joined the meeting.
17. GB reimagined feasibility study
JC advised that an overview of the feasibility study would be presented by Martin Sinclair and Graham Ross on behalf of the feasibility study design team. The presentation and feasibility study will be made available to the Board following the meeting.
Following presentation of the feasibility study outcome, Martin Sinclair and Graham Ross answered a range of questions from the Board. The Chair thanked both and they left the meeting.
Following a wide-ranging discussion, the Board agreed that while the plans were inspirational and ambitious, the cost implications were significantly outside any possible funding envelope in the foreseeable future. The funding challenges have only been exacerbated by the broader impacts of the pandemic. Consequently for the time being, an alternative approach was appropriate. This would be a smaller scale project. Focused on the public areas of the Library and considering priority opportunities for enhancing services, new services/revenue streams, other interventions such as external impact, and taking into account competing priorities around any required building maintenance works (including collection protection works).
The Board also agreed it would be useful to form a Board sub-group to engage in this next phase of work alongside the Library’s Task and Finish Group. It was agreed Simon Learoyd, Iain Marley, Alan Horn, Lesley McPherson and Robert Wallen would form this Board sub-group. The Board asked that the Task and Finish Group begin the review of prioritisation and share their initial thoughts with the Board sub-group in advance of an initial meeting.
All Board members were asked to feed in any views or thoughts as soon as possible to the Chair who would channel these to the Library’s Task and Finish Group.
JS thanked the Board for their input and welcomed working with the Board sub-group in this next phase.
The Board noted the report and agreed an update taking account of possible available capital spend in light of the Covid-19 situation, as well as restrictions due to configuration and location of the building, be presented to the March 2021 Board.
The Chair thanked all for their participation today and closed the meeting.
Date of next meeting: Wednesday 31 March 2021