Following a welcome from Barry Bloomfield, Chair of the Project's Advisory Group, the programme consisted of four sessions interspersed with three periods which provided over two hours of discussion. Each session had introductory presentations and the synopses or notes of these presentations appear in 2.0 below
Bernard Naylor (Chair of the Project Monitoring Group of the FIGIT study)
The study (Chair: Barry Bloomfield)
2. Planning the study;the questionnaire; libraries to be included?
Philip Bryant (Project Leader)
3. Material to be covered by the study?
Peter Hoare (Chair: Historic Libraries Forum)
A 'national programme' of retrospective conversion of library
catalogues? (Chair: Geoffrey Hare, County Librarian, Essex)
4. What are the HEFCs needs?
Derek Law (Director of Information Services and Systems, Kings College London )
5. Possible models for a 'national programme'?
Ray Templeton (Director, Information Services, Library Association)
Funding, organization and administration
(Chair: Frances Hendrix, Director, LASER)
6. Alternative sources of funding
Graham Jefcoate (Hon.Secretary, Library History Group)
7. What libraries require from a 'national programme' and what are the priorities?
Chris Koster (Director, Kensington and Chelsea
The following are the synopses or notes of their
presentations provided by the speakers.
1) An overview
of the national situation (Bernard Naylor)
The United Kingdom has a wealth of libraries which are well represented by the participants at this seminar. The types include: the national libraries, the ancient academic foundations, the newer universities, gentlemen's clubs, learned societies, county and city public libraries, historic private libraries, professional organisations, cathedral libraries, government departments and the libraries of stately homes.
Libraries have always shown a strong readiness to collaborate. Librarians have pride in the collections they administer but also a sense of their incompleteness. Automation has affected the different types of libraries to different degrees. Publicly funded libraries have usually found the investment easier to obtain. Automation of the library's catalogue must always raise the question of retroconversion.
Three decades of experience in the field of library collaboration have taught me some clear lessons. The flow of detailed information, at the level of the individual item, is critical. Although advances in library automation may have made the centralised database obsolescent, accessibility of information remains of the highest importance.There is also a nice balance in the value of stock information, whether material is of low use or high use. The conservation implications are also strong.
When the Follett Report was published, I expressed my concern that a retrospective decision had been deferred for a further study. Subsequent events have given weight to that fear. There is a danger that a historic opportunity may be missed. Widening the scope of retrospective conversion, as this meeting and this study seek to do, is very timely and fits with other initiatives such as the Anderson Report.
There is a need to make choices. We cannot do everything. The over-riding imperative is to appreciate that an appropriate programme of retrospective conversion must become as fundamental to our profession as the urge to cooperate itself.
2) Planning the study; libraries to be included; the questionnaire
(i) Motivation for the study. There is a national and international context: IFLA; LIBER Working Group on Library Automation; Council of Europe Recommendation of September 1989; the 1995 FIGIT study.
(ii) There are a large number of libraries and
the resources for this study are limited!
A lot of activity is going on e.g. Cathedral Libraries' Project, National Trust, etc
(iii) What parameters should be set?
- Should an attempt be made to cover all types of library in the forthcoming survey?
- Should only those categories of library be covered which are not currently involved in any coordinated programme of activity and all the other initiatives be 'mapped' in the final report?
(iv) The FIGIT study employed both quantitative
and qualitative methods. It also attempted
to determine a range of unit costs for producing retrospectively
converted catalogue records. In the current study the
intention is to use quantitative methods only
and to omit a study of 'costs' as it is not considered that these
will significantly differ from the range of costs detailed
in the report to FIGIT.
(v) The questionnaire, copies of which have been
distributed to those attending this meeting, have
also been 'piloted'. In the main it worked well, although some
changes are desirable. Further suggestions are invited.
(vi) Sources for the survey's mailing list. It
is proposed to use the LA Directory Libraries in
the United Kingdom . . . 1996. What other sources should
(vii) The intention is to mail the questionnaire,
with a covering letter and s.a.e., at the
beginning of June.
(viii) It is proposed that, once the final report
of the whole study has been accepted by
the BLRIC, it will be sent to all the sectoral bodies represented
in the survey, to the Library and Information
Commission, the DNH and to other appropriate
bodies for their consideration. When it has been approved,
it is planned to publish an edited version of
both this and the report of the FIGIT study in a single
volume at the end of 1996/beginning 1997.
In addition to the above, a copy of the paragraph in the FIGIT report headed 'Defining what has to be counted' (see Section 3.3.3) was circulated to the delegates to underline the
problems of being consistent in the use of the terms: title- record - item.
3) Material to be covered by the BLRIC study on Retrospective Conversion
The following factors and questions are for discussion:
Type of material or collection
Importance for research - richness - depth of coverage
Local or regional significance
Special material in the general library - to be considered as 'special collections' or
From the earliest relevant date to the present - or earlier cut-off for some types of
material, e.g. 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950?
'English' (scope of STC, Wing, ESTC - world-wide)
Europe - European languages (wherever published)
Rest of world - especially Oriental languages?
Traditional text printing - letterpress, litho, etc.
Informal publishing - duplicated, photocopied, computer print-out
Engraved - textual, other (music, maps, prints)?
'Books' of whatever size - including pamphlets, etc.
Periodicals, serials - newspapers, magazines
Broadsheets (printed notices, posters, etc) - ephemera?
Not covered by the present study, but needing further consideration
Manuscripts and archives - drawings, plans, etc.
Non-print material of other kinds
4) What are the HEFCs needs? (Derek Law)
The Funding Councils' Strategy
Access to collections
Cooperation in description of these collections
Anderson Report recommendations
CURL (Consortium of University Research Libraries)
e-Lib Docdel Projects set up with Follett money
A Distributed National Collection for the HE sector
Assured access to research materials
Assured delivery to the remote user
The Library and Information Commission budget is
limited; its brief is to define and envision
the library world of the 21st century. For the HE
sector cooperation is vital for its 212
institutions, and for delivery of material to remote
users; there is no new money, and
institutions volunteer for the good of the community.
There is some funding when collections
are transferred to an HE body. Funding decisions
to select which libraries may be supported
are at least as likely to be measured by the research
standing of the institution as by the
inherent nature of the collections. Under Non-Formula
Funding (NFF) for specialised
collections some £50,000,000 will be made available
over five years, but there will be no new
money and funds are non-transferable between expenditure
heads; however, there may be
some provision for a'roll forward' under the specific
head! The terms of grant include a
requirement that access is available to other bona
fide users i.e.users employed in HEIs
funded by the Funding Councils and DENI, and there
is now a move to make matching
funding a condition of grant. The need to match the
grants received raises other priorities in
librarians' thinking e.g. the importance of retroconversion
compared with money for
buildings. There is a view that because money is
short there will have to be a measure of 'cherry picking', that
is, prioritisation of the material for which retroconversion of
records should be undertaken.
Delivery to users might be best achieved by regional
arrangements. The backbone of an HE
regional library consortium for research is emerging
and document delivery could well be
offered by the sector. The CURL Database might serve
as the basis for a national
bibliographic resource. A major problem is expertise
- cataloguing is no longer considered a
core skill. (There is also a lack of trained archivists).
Some projects have not been started for
lack of suitable personnel. There is a clear view
that we should not attempt to catalogue everything.
There is likely to be an increased burden of use
for institutions who make their collections
available over the Internet. There is talk of funding
for a national digitisation centre*. The
view is held that the aim should be to populate the
Internet with 'content' rather than guides
to guides. There is also the question of providing
data about 'collections' rather than
'individual items'.Collections themselves need to
be more accessible as well as librarians' records of items within
* This has now been set up at the University of Hertfordshire
5) Possible models for a 'National Programme'
Special collections, by their very nature, have
diverse characteristics and diverse operating
and funding environments. This makes a national programme
more desirable, but at the same
time, more difficult. Many will be small, with less
visibility than general collections;
consequently lower profile; consequently more difficult
to attract funding. There is, therefore,
considerable potential for them to benefit from a
national programme. This should help to
encourage participation, but at the same time funding
available should be conditional on their
ability to meet certain criteria - guaranteed standards,
Characteristics of a national programme:
: exert influence outside programme
: raise funds and otherwise champion the intitiative
: raise profile
: ensure maximum coverage
: link with other national programmes
: cross library sectors
: ensure maximum exploitation
: exert influence within programme
: set priorities and allocate funding
: establishing quality standards, and monitor implementation
: ensure coordination
: ensure minimum duplication of effort
: increase cooperation
: facilitate monitoring
: disseminate information
Other considerations are: political positioning - high profile - authority - high-level influence
- administrative machinery
Is there a body in existence that can provide the
basis for such organisational requirements?
Is there an appropriate organisational model?
Is the body that would put a national programme in place, the same as the one that would
6) Additional sources
of funding (Graham Jefcoate)
As institutional budgets become ever tighter, libraries and archives, and especially those with
historic buildings and collections, are increasingly required by governing bodies to justify
their costs. There is an obvious need to identify additional or alternative sources of funding
or revenue if standards of service are not to decline and the integrity of collections is to be
There is a clear need for librarians and archivists to take a more proactive and imaginative
approach to funding issues. In collaboration with the Society of Archivists, the Library
Association Library History Group proposes to publish a Guide to additional sources of
funding for libraries and archives. This guide will help applicants identify funding sources
and exploit them effectively and imaginatively. It will also serve as a guide to best practice,
aiming to identify solutions that are effective both in terms of time and costs. It will be aimed
primarily at smaller libraries and archives with historic buildings and collections, but will also
be of practical use to all in the field with a responsibility for budgets or an interest in fund-
raising. The Guide will be based on a survey of current practice and will be published by the
British Library Research and Innovation Centre, which has also supported the project with a
7) What libraries require from a 'national programme' and what are the
Any library becoming involved in a proposed 'national programme' will firstly need to
consider whether or not to participate. Assuming they can justify participation a number of
practical issues concerned with their involvement will follow. It is intended to concentrate on
these as follows:
Do we need or want to become involved?
Condition and state of material
Availability of material
Funding and resources
Level of commitment
What are the operational factors affecting involvement?
Staffing resources and expertise
Equipment and plant
In-house computer situation
(iii) NATIONAL PROGRAMME
What are the pre-requisites for success?
Clear explanation of purpose
Identification of collections
Standards and operations
Co-ordination and control
Funding and commitment
The discussion at the seminar has been used, together with the results of the FIGIT Focused
Consultation Group and the views expressed at both studies' advisory groups, to inform
Section 1 of this report.
The following two comments were typical of the support of those at the meeting for a
coordinated approach to the task of completing the retrospective conversion of the
'We must be ready to cooperate. We need to know the size of the problem and how it could be tackled . . . Everyone needs to be involved and there should be no HE/non-HE split'.
(Librarian of a major university)
'There should be a momentum to include retrospective
conversion in the national information policy arena. We do
have to create an access policy'. (Chief
Librarian of a major public library)
4.0 Attendance List
Nicolas Barker, Libraries Adviser, National Trust
Alan Bell, Librarian, The London Library
Barry Bloomfield, Chair, Project's Advisory Group
Philip Bryant, Project Leader, University of Bath
David Buckle, Managing Director, OCLC Europe
Dr.P.A.Bulloch, Librarian, Balliol College, University of Oxford
Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, Bart, Chadwyck-Healey Ltd
Ann Chapman, Research Officer, UKOLN, The Library, University of Bath
Gillian Cornelius, Bibliographic Resources Librarian, Natural History Museum
Margaret Croucher, British Library R & D Department
Michael Crump, Head, British Library Early Collections Service
Sandra Cumming, Fellowship and Information Services, The Royal Society,
Sarah Dodgson, Librarian, The Athenaeum, LONDON
Gina Douglas, Librarian and Archivist, Linnean Society of London
Robert Duckett, Senior Librarian, Reference Services, Central Library, BRADFORD
Leo Favret, Library Operations Manager, Central Library, BROMLEY
Geoffrey Forster, Librarian, The Leeds Library
Pam Garbett, Quality Coordinator, Bibliographic Services, Central Library, BIRMINGHAM
Dr.Rhidian Griffiths, Keeper of Printed Books, National Library of Wales
Geoffrey Hare, County Librarian, Essex County Library HQ
Henry Heaney OBE, University Librarian, Glasgow University Library
Dr.Lotte Hellinga FBA, Secretary, Consortium of European Research Libraries
Frances Hendrix JP, Director, LASER
Peter Hoare, Chair, Historic Libraries Forum
Peter Hoey, Librarian, Royal Society of Chemistry
Benita Horder, Librarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Margaret Hoyes, The Library, Royal Society of Medicine
Richard Hudson, Chief Executive, SLS (Information Systems) Ltd
Professor Peter Isaac, The Bibliographical Society
Graham Jefcoate, Programme Manager, Network Services, The British Library
Ruth Kamen, Director, British Architectural Library, Royal Institute of British Architects
Ed King, Cathedrals Library Project, c/o The British Library
Chris Koster, Director of Libraries and Arts, Kensington and Chelsea Central Library,
Derek Law, Director of Information Services and Systems, King's College London Library
Tony McSean, Librarian, British Medical Association
Simon Malpas, Stock Edit Librarian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Heather Moore, Senior Executive, Saztec Europe
Bernard Naylor, The Hartley Library, University of Southampton
Ann Newport, Systems Librarian, The Library, Inner Temple
Howard Nicholson, Librarian, University of Bath
Pat Oddy, Head of Cataloguing, British Library ACP
Dr.Richard Palmer, Lambeth Palace Library
Michael Pollock, Librarian, Royal Asiatic Society
Bill Posnett, Librarian, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Dr.Seamus Ross, The British Academy
Dick Sargent, Royal Commission on HistoricalManuscripts,
Alan Seal, Head of Records, Victoria and Albert Museum
Dr.David Shaw, Department of French, University of Kent at Canterbury
Andrew Stevens, Library Strategy Manager, Westminster City Libraries
Ray Templeton, Library Association
Mary Wilkinson, Head, Acquisitions
and Cataloguing, Imperial War Museum