National Library of Scotland Board meeting minutes, 30 March 2022 (PDF) (212 KB; 16 pages)
- Sir Drummond Bone (Chair – DB.
- Simon Learoyd (Vice Chair) – SL.
- Helen Durndell (Vice Chair) – HD.
- Elizabeth Carmichael – EC.
- Ruth Crawford QC – RC.
- Alan Horn – AH.
- Robert Wallen – RW.
- Kirsty Lingstadt – KL.
- Robert Kirkpatrick - RK.
- Alison Kidd - AK.
- Faculty of Advocates, Neil Mackenzie – NM.
- The Audience Agency, Catherin Bradley (part-time) – CB.
National Library of Scotland attendees
- Amina Shah, National Librarian – ASh.
- Jackie Cromarty – JCr.
- Meaghan Kerr – MK.
- Gill Hamilton (part-time) – GH.
- Lucy Clement (part-time) – LC.
1. Chair's Welcome
The Chair welcomed all to the meeting including the new Board members and Neil Mackenzie from the Faculty of Advocates.
2. Apologies for Absence
Apologies were noted from Anthony Gillespie, Alison Stevenson, Lesley McPherson, and Union Representative Jan Usher.
3. Declarations of Interests
Declarations are as recorded.
4. Horizon Scanning
- The second round of Board recruitment is upcoming. It was noted that more finance expertise would be required on the Board.
- With the increase in inflation, it is going to become increasingly important to keep appraised of increased rates on utilities across the Library
- A structure for the centenary plans is needed to progress its objectives.
- Further decisions are needed around capital programming on GIVB and Lawnmarket.
- The purchase of the Honresfield collections was successful with the allocation of the items being made to the different libraries across the UK.
5. Minutes of Meetings
The minutes and confidential minutes of 24 November 2021 were approved as a correct record. There were no additions to the minutes.
6. Actions and Matters Arising
The Board noted the status of the actions.
It was agreed the Board would receive a reminder of safeguarding responsibilities at regular intervals.
In relation to the external governance review, it was noted that more work is to be undertaken. This would be tabled at the Governance Committee and thereafter to the Board in June. The Chair is in discussion with Board Committee Chairs with regards to the new Board members and their allocation to the appropriate committees, which would be circulated in due course.
7. Librarian's Report and Library Plan update
ASh highlighted several points from the report.
- The Library is still dealing with the impact of Covid but has shifted the focus from resumption to service resilience and transformation. The Library Leadership Team (LLT) meets fortnightly to discuss updates and to keep abreast of Scottish Government guidance.
- A date for the new Minister for Culture Mr Neil Gray MSP to visit the Library has been set for June.
- ASh has taken on a new role as the Chair of UK Legal Deposit Implementation group.
- ASh highlighted the Hidden Collections case study which showed how procedures can inadvertently create hidden collections and the importance of admitting to and learning from mistakes.
- The Kickstart programme has been inspirational and has had a positive effect on the team at Sighthill as well as the two programme members. LLT have approved the extension of their roles for a further six months.
- A query was raised around interns and early career opportunities and how the Library will be taking these on going forward. It was noted that many lessons had been learned from the previous cohorts of interns which highlighted issues around online working and connection with the Library, working on sensitive subject matter and mentoring and support. Funding for interns in future was proving more difficult in the current financial landscape and LLT are looking more strategically at how best to attract and engage young people with the Library and its work.
ASh highlighted The Library Plan update.
- 80% of the 2021/22 objectives are green and completed with a few outstanding red objectives which include the Google Books project. The issues are currently being resolved with Google, which include transport and customs barriers because of Brexit. The team are working with the Scottish Government to attain financial support to resolve these issues.
- The newspaper project is being undertaken on a smaller scale as a decision was made to not digitise all the papers initially selected but to prioritise key selections that are under immediate threat. An application for funding has been made to the Soutar Trust and is still to be confirmed.
- Cyber Essentials accreditation is on-going with the process well underway. Further details of the process will be provided to the Board in due course.
8. Audit Committee Update
- The Committee discussed the Library
- The re-tender process for the investment managers is underway.
Good quality work is being progressed by the Estates team. There is a maintenance backlog of £7-8m which would need to be addressed by the Board at some point. Some of the big issues to be undertaken are the fire protection work at George IV Bridge and Causewayside, which are constrained by the availability of funding.
9. Governance Committee Update
There was no update from the committee.
10. Staffing & Remuneration Committee Update
- The overview of the Scottish Government pay policy for 2022/23 was discussed and an initial conversation had with the Trade Unions. It is expected the process would be protracted.
- There are numerous inflationary pressures as well as an increase in the National Insurance contributions.
- The security review has concluded with a good resolution.
- The funding for Covid lateral flow tests for staff will end from 18 April.
- There continues to be pressures on staff capacity because of Covid.
- A draft of the Flexible Working Policy and Hybrid Working Policy will be coming to the committee in June.
The Chair thanked the Committee Chairs for the valuable updates.
11. Draft Library Plan and Budget 2022/23
ASh highlighted several points from the draft plan and budget.
- SL stated that the Audit Committee are in support of the plan.
- Key areas are: the newspaper project; Google Books project; user centred development; the implementation of the audience development programme and the GB Public Spaces capital project.
- The plan has been developed to use KPIs which measure success.
- It was noted that there will be significant challenges with regards to utilities costs increasing which will have an impact on the budget. SL noted that a mid-year review of the budget and plan would be prudent.
- ASh confirmed that the draft plan of the budget had been shared with the Scottish Government. Feedback was that the plan was clear with good links to the National Performance Framework.
- The issues around the drop in numbers of visitors to the website was continuing to be investigated. It was agreed that further detail would be tabled to the Board around website visits and digital trends with an update at the next Board meeting.
The Board approved the budget with the requirement for a mid-year review as concerns were raised about the stability of the budget in face of utility rates.
12. Committee Terms of Reference and Committee membership
JCr noted the following.
- The Terms of Reference are reviewed every two years, with some small changes made this time to the Audit and Staffing and Remunerations Committee terms.
- There was a desire from the Audit committee to have some oversight of capital projects for the Board, which would sit alongside the assurance role of the Governance Committee.
- The Committee memberships were noted with new members to be added to the various Committees. The Chair confirmed this was underway and would write to the members and the Board.
The Board agreed the changes to the Terms of References.
13. Governance Documents
- Small scale changes were required to the documents which included the main change that Board and Governance meetings can be held virtually or in-person, which was now part of the standing orders. JCr confirmed this can now be put in place on a permanent basis.
- Cross reference between the Scheme of Delegation and Scheme of Administration is now included.
- The Code of Conduct is to be implemented by June, with an extension agreed to end of June so this can be tabled at the June Board meeting.
- It was asked that monitoring delivery of the Library's strategy be added to the governance responsibilities for the Board.
14. Major Loan Request RL00159
- Any loan approval that is to go abroad must come to the Board for approval following an internal sign-off process.
- The loan request was the first post-Brexit loan with the custom arrangements being undertaken by the accepting institution.
- It was noted that a policy around international loans is being developed by the Collections Care team which will address issues such as storage and environmental concerns.
The Board approved the Major Loan Request.
15. Risk Management Policy and Appetite
ASh highlighted the following.
- The Risk Management Policy was reviewed by the Audit Committee and includes the element of strategic risks and training for staff as part of the e-learning module, as well as reference to assurance mapping.
- The policy and appetite were reviewed and discussed at length at the Audit Committee, with the overall risk appetite at the Library identified as low.
- The risk appetite for 9 strategic risks was highlighted on page 147, with work being undertaken across the organisation to flow into the strategic risk register supported by training.
- The Committee was comfortable that the Library has a mature risk management process and a tolerable risk position, with mitigations in place.
The following points were discussed.
- It was agreed that further understanding was needed around how the control mechanism works and the Audit Committee would be discussing how to see the risk register controls more developed. It was also noted that the risk register continues to be a living document.
- It was noted that the Board needed to have assurance that there were external validations as part of assurance mapping. It was agreed that this would be discussed at the next Audit Committee meeting.
16. Internal Audit Plan 2022/23
- The Internal Audit plan was tabled to give the Board an opportunity to discuss areas to put forward and consider significant areas and onward themes for the internal auditors.
- The internal audit contract has been extended to June 2023 with an opportunity to extend for one more year. This will be discussed at the Audit Committee.
- The four areas of internal audit for 2021/22 are project management, communications and stakeholder engagement, strategic planning and procurement and project management.
- The Audit Committee would also like to see the auditors look at broader reputational risk, as well as reviewing strategic planning and fire protection management.
- It was confirmed that the contract allows for four to five audits but further assessments can be requested as required.
- The timing of the audits for staff recruitment and staff well-being is due to discussions around EDI and improving diversity across staff.
- It was suggested that the strategic planning audit could look at the success of the Library plan.
- SL confirmed that the process around the documentation and evidence for the valuation of purchased archives was to have a benchmark measuring value and documenting the process around making the decision.
Lucy Clement joined the meeting
17. Fundraising annual update and policy review
- Over £1m of fundraising income was raised in the 2021-22 year, which is the most that has been raised in a year in the last twelve years.
- The Honresfield acquisition was a successful campaign for the Library with funding raised from both individuals and trusts. It was the first time that readers were engaging in a fundraising campaign with over half the donations received from readers. The American Patrons were also supportive of the campaign and helped raise the profile of the Library in the US.
- The yearly fundraising code of practice checklist has reported no breaches and no complaints about fundraising.
- The new three-year fundraising strategy is being developed up to the Centenary. The new strategy has a strong focal point in the Centenary which will help raise the Library's profile and be galvanising for donors. The supporter base has grown and bigger and bolder projects have been funded, which is a strong base to build on. The strategy will also address how to bring together the wider library community of readers, event goers and donors of collections into the supporter group and encourage more legacies and donations.
- The Board were supportive of the annual update and congratulated the team on a fantastic year with positive results and the stewardship of donors. The Board noted that the successful and engaging clear campaign from Honresfield was a great example of a fundraising project that inspires people and looked forward to seeing more in future.
- The Board noted that they would like to see further ethical framework considerations being highlighted in the reports. LC noted that the Library has an ethical fundraising policy and that prospect research is completed under due diligence guidelines and noted on the risk register when working with donations from companies.
- The Board was pleased to see the continued support from the American Patrons and the involvement that they would like to have with the Library. The Chair and the National Librarian have been extended an invitation to visit the USA and LC confirmed more events are being identified with the ex-pat community and the US consulate.
Lucy Clement left the meeting. Barbara Burke- and Catherine Bradley (from the Audience Agency) joined the meeting.
18. The Audience Agency presentation: Audience development work
- The audience development work was a tool to feed the approach to marketing and to raise the profile and the usage of the Library. The report would help guide what can be done to make the Library an audience focused organisation by the centenary.
Catherine Bradley highlighted.
- The research focused on exploring audience development potential in Scotland, with testing done from postcodes of registered readers and event bookers.
- The audience profiling and audience spectrum work was culturally specific with a wider range of more relevant perspectives. This looked to segment the UK population on attitudes towards culture and draws on experience and population census data.
- The report noted that the 'Home and Heritage' and 'Dormitory dependable' groups were the most important to the Library, and that the harder to engage groups were also represented.
- The research highlighted that the topics of interest for people were often areas that related to their own sense of identity.
- There were high levels of interest for newspaper digitisation and people accessing papers from the past.
- The response to events held by the Library both in-person and online was strong which identified the need for more events and more interactivity with the public.
- Key audience development opportunities were raising awareness, expanding geographical reach, events and exhibitions offers, the GIVB experience and the consistent offer for families.
- There needed to be significant shifts in services and programming on offer for the under-represented groups, with significant barriers to address for these groups.
- The Board raised concerns around closing the engagement gap between users and non-users in the current financial climate as there would be large costs involved to do so. It was noted that the biggest opportunity now for the Library was with groups who already have some level of engagement with the Library.
- ASh noted that the report confirmed the real way to make achievements is to test and have conversations with the public as to how we can drive public programming.
- Work needed to be done to turn the high level of awareness about the Library into engagement and how to take their perceptions of what the Library does into a connect with their day-to-day lives.
The Board thanked CB for the presentation and report. Barbara Burke and Catherine Bradley left the meeting. Gill Hamilton joined the meeting.
19. Digital Department Planning and Activities Update
- The cyber security risk register is reviewed and updated regularly, and the team continually undertake responses to on-going cyber threats.
- LLT and the Board would benefit from ongoing development and training in responding to cyber security. There are plans to further improve business continuity and business management processes.
- New cloud services are being procured in the new financial year and more of the Library's services will be moved across to this for enhanced cyber protection. If procurement is done through the Scottish Government, they undertake the due diligence around climate effects and greenhouse gas emissions.
- The digital department uses a planner instead of a roadmap as elements are constantly changing and diverging, and this allows the team to assess and understand the work to be done.
- There is more work to be done around networking and re-factoring the networking, alongside the on-going programme of work which is scheduled until 2026.
- Cyber essentials accreditation is a lengthy process and it is expected we may not achieve it as quickly as hoped due to changes in the requirements and goalposts. The Library has a reasonable level of security and in comparison with other organisations, we are in similar place with regards to achieving the accreditation.
The Board would like to hear more about some of the issues around cyber essentials and cyber security as this was a Scottish Government requirement. It was agreed that GWH would provide an update at the November Board.
20. Finance Quarterly Report
- There is a degree of uncertainty due to shifts of money for Estates projects but a final figure would be available soon. It is anticipated that there would be a surplus and a discussion would be taking place at the Audit Committee as to whether the monies were put into reserves or to the Foundation. It was agreed that this decision needed to be approved by the Board ahead of the June meeting and that correspondence via email to the Board would be done for a decision following the Audit committee meeting.
- The resource spending review exercise for the Scottish Government was done with responses around links to the key priorities and performance framework. The results would be received in May which would include indicative figures for the next three years.
21. Health and Safety Report
ASh presented the report to Board for information and advised.
- Covid was still prevalent and there was a growing number of staff being required to isolate.
- Fire safety training was being undertaken for staff.
22. Approved Board Committee Minutes
The Board noted the Committee minutes of Audit Committee: 8 November 2021 and Staffing & Remuneration Committee: 3 November 2021
23. NLS Foundation Minutes
The Board noted the NLS Foundation minutes of 2 November 2021.
24. Date of Next Meeting
Wednesday 29 June 2022.
The Board noted the proposed June 2022 agenda items.
The meeting closed at 13.20.