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School of Scottish Studies archive under threat

GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 04 Feb 13 - 04:32 AM
Jim McLean 04 Feb 13 - 05:04 AM
Jim McLean 04 Feb 13 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 04 Feb 13 - 05:15 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Feb 13 - 05:24 AM
Jim McLean 04 Feb 13 - 05:27 AM
John MacKenzie 04 Feb 13 - 05:29 AM
doc.tom 04 Feb 13 - 05:48 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Feb 13 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 04 Feb 13 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 04 Feb 13 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 04 Feb 13 - 07:16 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 13 - 07:31 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Feb 13 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 04 Feb 13 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 04 Feb 13 - 11:38 AM
Jim McLean 04 Feb 13 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Graham Webster (The School of Scottish Studi 04 Feb 13 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 04 Feb 13 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 04 Feb 13 - 01:25 PM
GUEST 04 Feb 13 - 01:44 PM
sheila 04 Feb 13 - 04:16 PM
John MacKenzie 04 Feb 13 - 04:32 PM
Jim McLean 05 Feb 13 - 09:07 AM
Vic Smith 05 Feb 13 - 11:33 AM
maeve 05 Feb 13 - 11:37 AM
Vic Smith 06 Feb 13 - 06:16 AM
Vic Smith 06 Feb 13 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 06 Feb 13 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 07 Feb 13 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 07 Feb 13 - 03:30 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Feb 13 - 05:20 PM
maeve 07 Feb 13 - 06:09 PM
Jim McLean 08 Feb 13 - 05:46 AM
MartinRyan 08 Feb 13 - 07:04 AM
maeve 08 Feb 13 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 08 Feb 13 - 07:44 AM
Steve Byrne 08 Feb 13 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Jams O'Donnell 08 Feb 13 - 12:27 PM
Jim McLean 19 Feb 13 - 06:54 AM
Steve Byrne 19 Feb 13 - 08:40 AM
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Subject: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 04:32 AM

A quick search of the Mudcat database shows how often the School Of Scottish Studies' invaluable archive in Edinburgh is referred to, Now the University authorities are intending to break up and distribute the archive, placing it out of each of many of the people who currently use it and the expert and helpful staff who currently look after it.

The students at the School have organised a petition, at

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/university-of-edinburgh-preserve-the-school-of-scottish-studies-gl%C3%A8idh-sgoil-e%C3%B2lais-na-h-alba


(sorry clicky doesn't seem to work so copy-and-paste needed, or maybe it's just me). Signatures are invited. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jim McLean
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:04 AM

Petition
Thanks for that, I have signed the petition. I spent a couple of years at the Sschool of Celtic and Scottish Studies recently and used the library intensively. The staff are so knowledgeable and helpful that it would be an act of criminal folly to split up this valuable resource.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jim McLean
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:05 AM

I'm sorry, the blue clicky I tried to make is not working.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:15 AM

I couldn't get the clicky thing to work either, I wondered if it might be the Gaelic accents in the URL.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:24 AM

Petition (Address above was incomplete). You need cookies enabled to connect. I've signed too.

Mick


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jim McLean
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:27 AM

Thanks, Mick.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:29 AM

What I find even more annoying is this. When I went to sign the petition, and I don't normally sign them. I find it seems to be run by a commercial entity, and when you look at their privacy terms, they tell me that signing it, gives them the right to send me more e-mails, on unspecified subjects!
So I didn't sign.
Shame really, but I already get too much crap in my in-box.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: doc.tom
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:48 AM

Sadly, I'm with John MacKenzie on this one. Who do we write to instead?
Dr. T. W. Brown


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 05:58 AM

I used my normally unused gmail account address rather than my proper one.

Mick


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 06:16 AM

I became aware of the petition (I'm not connected with the School or the University) and was just passing it on to widen its audience, so I don't know, at the moment, who the most appropriate person to write to would be. Possibly the Principal, since this seems to be a top-level decision.

I'll try to find out more, though, and let you know.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 06:18 AM

I keep trying to sign and it keeps coming up with an error message. No matter, I'll keep on trying until I succeed.

In the meantime, may I say what a splendid pseudonym the creator of this thread has chosen to adopt. An Béal Bocht to you Sir.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 07:16 AM

Thanks, Fred, on both counts. It's a lot shorter than Bonaparte, son of Peter, son of Owen, son of Thomas's Sarah, grand-daughter of John's Mary, grand-daughter of James, son of Dermot...

and it is, after all, me nam.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 07:31 AM

I don't think there is any point in petitioning the Edinburgh University administration. They've been trying to turn the place into a business college for years. Go over their heads. The Minister of Culture in the Scottish Parliament is Fiona Hyslop:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/People/14944/Scottish-Cabinet/fionahyslop


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 09:27 AM

Fred - are cookies allowed for the site; if not it seems to hang without getting to the petition.

Mick


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 11:12 AM

The SSS is one of the most important archives in Scotland. This really came home to me when I was working on the two Kyloe CDs of material recorded by Hamish Henderson. There is just so much material here - all of it priceless. If it gets split up and put under the administration of non-specialists then who knows what might happen. I have signed the petition and will be writing to the Scottish Office. I urge others to contact whoever they can, seeking help to prevent this disintegration from ever taking place.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 11:38 AM

I still haven't been able to sign. However, it's beginning to look as though a major campaign will be needed to stop this happening.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jim McLean
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 12:25 PM

Thanks, Jack, I've emailed Fiona Hyslop.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Graham Webster (The School of Scottish Studi
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 12:55 PM

Good evening, thank you for sharing the link to our petition. If you'd like to write to anyone, we ask you may please write to Dorothy Miell for just now, who is the current head of Humanities and Social Sciences (and behind the move). Her address is:

Professor Dorothy Miell
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Edinburgh
55-56 George Square
Edinburgh
EH8 9JU

Or, you can email her at Head.CHSS@ed.ac.uk

There is currently a bill being discussed in parliament, you can view it here. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S4M-05507&ResultsPerPage=10

We also have a blog: http://scottishstudiescampaign.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your support,
Graham Webster
The School of Scottish Studies Camapaign


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 01:04 PM

Thanks for that, Graham. I was going to suggest writing to the Rector, Peter McColl, as well as the Principal, but I'm sure you suggestion is much better informed than mine. I'll be writing to her, and also to Fiona Hyslop (thanks Jack C for that suggestion).


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 01:25 PM

Given that Alex Salmond, First Minister for Scotland, was one of the presenters at the BBC Folk Awards in Glasgow last week, perhaps he would be a good person to write to.
Derek


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 01:44 PM

http://scottishstudiescampaign.wordpress.com/ this link should give you all the relevant information and relevant contact details.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: sheila
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 04:16 PM

Alan Bruford must be spinning in his grave.
I've signed the petition, not that I think it will make much difference...


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 04:32 PM

Surely breaking it up is madness. They could put it in a library so all can access it. Somewhere like the Mitchell, or similar.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Jim McLean
Date: 05 Feb 13 - 09:07 AM

I have just received this from a member of staff in the SSS.

The Department of Literature Languages and culture are expecting to move the
majority of their departments in to William Robertson building by Easter
2014. There will be shared secretarial and learning resources which will
include 10,000 books collected from all language departments. It seems that
the academics and some of the books will go there and the sound and photo
archive will remain at 29 George Square. I will be moved to another library
site.

The students campaign is at:
http://scottishstudiescampaign.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/campaign-launch-what
-our-campaign-is-all-about/


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Subject: Vital Scots Archive under threat
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Feb 13 - 11:33 AM

This email from John Barrow. I have signed the petition:-

Petition to Preserve the School of Scottish Studies Archive

Hi

This link - http://www.traditionalmusicforum.org/category/blog/- takes you to a more detailed discussion of why there's a petition being raised under the heading "Preserve the School of Scottish Studies: Change.org petition" (see below).

The School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh is a world renowned teaching and research institution which has been at the heart of studying, recording, analysing, discussing Scottish traditional culture in its myriad facets for the past 60 years or so.

I received this message (below) earlier today and I am now circulating it as widely as possible to my email circulation list for, what I hope are, obvious reasons ...

Preserve the School of Scottish Studies: Change.org petition

Students and Academics at Edinburgh University are greatly concerned by proposals to carve up the School of Scottish Studies, an internationally respected beacon for Scotland's culture, by separating the world famous archive collection from its associated libraries and from ongoing teaching and research. A student campaign is under way to convince the University and the public that the School of Scottish Studies resources must remain intact and accessible to researchers, ethnologists and to the wider public.

A student spokesperson for the campaign, said: "We see no justification for separating them and thus threatening 60 years of innovative scholarship in the field of Scottish Ethnology and Folklore. The continuing record of the Scottish people contained within the Archives, which features prominently in many taught courses and wider research projects, is at stake. We request that the University allows the staff, students and resources of the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies to remain complete and united in one building".

We are now inviting the public to support our campaign. We urge Edinburgh University to listen to the consistent and unanimous opinion of this student body, and ask you, the public to join in our determination to protect the School of Scottish Studies resources for us, for scholars of the future and for all of the people of Scotland.
===============

It all seems to me like a cause for concern and a reason for signing the petition!


Cheers

jb


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Subject: RE: Vital Scots Archive under threat
From: maeve
Date: 05 Feb 13 - 11:37 AM

It certainly is, Vic.

There's an earlier thread here: School of Scottish Studies archive
    Threads combined. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Vital Scots Archive under threat
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Feb 13 - 06:16 AM

In view of what Maeve has pointed out, could this thread be deleted by moderators and my opening post transferred to the thread referred to?


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Feb 13 - 10:44 AM

This arrived today from Margaret Bennett

-

You may not have heard the alarming news that the University of Edinburgh is about to dismantle (even disperse) the holdings at the School of Scottish Studies. Students are stunned by this news (as are the general public) and though it has not been widely publicised yet, we must do our best. I'm sure there are many supporters in the AFS so I wrote yesterday to Timothy Lloyd.

The summary is below, I'm sure you understand just what a loss this would be.

With warmest wishes,
Margaret

'Grange of Locherlour'
Ochtertyre
Crieff, PH7 4JS
Perthshire
Tel: (44-0)1764 655 979

Mobile 07786 964 300 (UK only)
Website: www.margaretbennett.co.uk


------ Forwarded Message
From: "Lloyd, Timothy"
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2013 14:24:49 +0000
To: Margaret Bennett
Conversation: Petition to save the School of Scottish Studies
Subject: Re: Petition to save the School of Scottish Studies

Dear Margaret,

I will circulate this later today. Would an official letter (to whom?) from the AFS President and Board be of help?

Best wishes,
Tim Lloyd

Timothy Lloyd, PhD, Executive Director, American Folklore Society, Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, 1501 Neil Avenue, Columbus OH 43201-2602 USA; telephone 614/292-3375; fax 614/292-2407; e-mail lloyd.100@osu.edu

The American Folklore Society, founded in 1888, is an association of people who study folklore and communicate knowledge about folklore throughout the world. Our more than 2,200 members and subscribers are scholars, teachers, and libraries at colleges and universities; professionals in arts and cultural organizations; and community members studying and conserving folk traditions. Join us in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 16-19, 2013, for our 124th annual meeting, on the theme of "Cultural Sustainability." For annual meeting details and membership information, or to learn more about folklore, the Society, and the work of folklorists, please visit our web site (www.afsnet.org ).


On Feb 4, 2013, at 4:11 PM, Margaret Bennett wrote:
As a member of the AFS, I would like to ask the Society to forward this petition from students at the School of Scottish Studies.
It seems almost unthinkable that the University of Edinburgh has taken the decision to dismantle the flagship of Scottish Folklore.

The School was founded in 1951 with two great folklorists: Hamish Henderson and Calum Maclean.
Among the first tapes to be deposited were Alan Lomax fieldwork recordings and for over six decades there have been strong links to many Folklore Departments in the USA and Canada. One of the best known scholars to study there was the late Kenneth S. Goldstein whose fieldwork in Scotland inspired his Guide for Fieldworkers in Folklore.
The decision to remove 90 percent of the library may indicate the drastic measures proposed by the Edinburgh University's decision makers.

Please forward this to folklorists who would share our concern.
With thanks,
Margaret Bennett


STUDENT LETTER:

Dear Friends,

Students at Edinburgh are greatly concerned by University plans to disintegrate the School of Scottish Studies, home of the Scottish Folk Revival and internationally renowned centre for research in Ethnology and Celtic Studies, by separating ongoing teaching from its resources - the world famous archive collection and its associated libraries. As a result of these plans, the School of Scottish Studies is likely to lose 90% of its books and the future of the fragile archival material remains uncertain. A student campaign is under way to persuade the University that the School of Scottish Studies and its resources must remain intact and accessible to researchers and the wider public.   

Please follow this link and sign our petition to support this cause: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/university-of-edinburgh-preserve-the-school-of-scottish-studies-gl%C3%A8idh-sgoil-e%C3%B2lais-na-h-alba

Best regards,
M. F. Piotrowska

School of Scottish Studies Campaign


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 06 Feb 13 - 11:54 AM

Graham Webster (above) suggests we write to Professor Dorothy Miell, who is behind he move. I had a wee look at her bio on the University website. It says 'Her research focuses on understanding the social and communicative aspects of creativity - particularly in collaborative activities such as music making'. How's that for irony! Or would hypocrisy might be a better word for it?


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 10:16 AM

sounds like an absurd proposal based on "political" reasoning... or lack of said. Someone wants their own little fiefdom.

maybe it's an English plot to turn Scotland into a clone of itself...


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 03:30 PM

Excellent news today! Here's a brief intro from the students' blog, referred to above by Jim McLean.

'Students at the University of Edinburgh today welcome the decision to dedicate £350,000 to improve accessibility to the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, meaning that the building and facilities at 27-29 George Square will be much more accessible. This means that it will be possible for staff, students, teaching and research to remain on the same site as archival and library resources and study space.'

The day appears to be saved. Huge congratulations to the students, on behalf of students to come, and indeed the people of Scotland. Clearly, I have no mandate or authority to congratulate on anybody's behalf but my own, but hey, congratulations anyway. And to Dorothy Miell, a meek apology for any slur.

Brilliant, everybody!


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 05:20 PM

Wonderful news! Well done all concerned.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: maeve
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 06:09 PM

Thank you for the good news!


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: Jim McLean
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 05:46 AM

A reply this morning from a member of staff:

The students have chosen to read the last university press release as a positive note when they said that library and study spaces would remain and disabled access to 29 George Square would be initiated. However 27 and 28 George square were not referred to, so I am not as hopeful.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:04 AM

Yes - I hear similarly cautious noises from other sources.

Regards


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: maeve
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:04 AM

Oh dear.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:44 AM

Sounds like I might have been overoptimistic. If so, sorry for sending out the wrong message. I guess the campaign should go on. I'll get back to writing the letters, then.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: Steve Byrne
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 09:05 AM

If I may 'breenge in' on this...

I've been sitting on the sidelines somewhat waiting to see how this would pan out.

I'm a former student at SoSS, currently a visiting staff member on a related project and a former member of the Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches digitisation project team.

I'm also currently the Chair of the Traditional Music Forum, a network of over 70 organisations working across Scotland, from academia to local community workshops and folk clubs, many of whom have been expressing their concerns. In that role, I have requested an official statement from the University press office, which I am expecting soon.

All that said, I am commenting in a personal capacity here, without direct knowledge of all the issues at hand. I am very happy to be put right!

I've known informally for over a year that the move of the department was on the cards for 2014.

The students have created a forceful campaign in a short period of time which is to be applauded. However, in doing so, I fear they have created quite a muddled message, which may end up causing more confusion in the long run. (Indeed, there already seems to be considerable confusion over the latest announcement).

It has reached the height of hysteria in some quarters, resulting in a message of "those University of Edinburgh so-and-sos are closing the School!", which has reached concerned fellow folklorists across the Irish Sea and the Atlantic. Many of us will have received the round robin emails, and some colleagues and I have received direct enquiries from concerned academics and archive staff elsewhere.

Several of the posts on the petition reflect this "closing the school" notion:

* "A department of world renown. Why close it?"

* "Its closure is not simply an issue for academia, but would have implications for Scottish culture in the wider cultural world. Don't do it!"

Closure has never been on the table, as far as I am aware. However, it seems clear that in planning the move of the department, the location of the archive and library resources was inexplicably overlooked by the University powers-that-be.

Perhaps part of this was due to an expectation that, when planning the move a year or two ago, the completion of the Tobar / Kist digitisation project would mean that the original tapes would no longer need to be on site. While Tobar / Kist has not managed to do everything it set out to do, this would nonetheless be a reasonable assumption, in my view; not least since, as many of us know, reel-to-reel tapes suffer considerably from repeated access and use. I'll come to more of the digitisation aspect shortly.

As far as I understand, the overlooking of the archive housing prompted a major review of the archive which took place in 2012 and was published last October. It is freely available online:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.104300!/fileManager/Review-of-The-School-of-Scottish-Studies-Archive-FINAL.pdf

The archive review was conducted by Richard Ranft (Head of Sound and Vision, The British Library) and Lesley Richmond (Director, Glasgow University Archive Services). It contained reports from the three specialist reviewers - Ríonach uí Ógáin (Director, National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin), Catriona MacDonald (Reader in Late Modern Scottish History, University of Glasgow) and Gary West (Senior Lecturer in Celtic and Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University).

It is perhaps with the relatively recent arrival of this publication that news of the move became more widely known amongst the students and we find ourselves in the current situation.

I don't doubt for a moment the value in having all the resources, staff and students together on one site. However, the review document states:

"The imminent moves of the Celtic and Scottish Studies academic staff to new premises and the lack of designated accommodation for the Archives is a critical moment in the history of the SSSA. A high level options appraisal is urgently needed to determine its future. While it is not the purpose of the report to find solutions, we hope the following will help inform decisions that need to be taken."

My reading of this is that the move of the academic staff to new premises is already agreed - and as such the hope that maintaining the school and resources in one location may not be an option, despite the latest positive noises from the student campaign.


There are several aspects to the proposed move, as far as I can see -

* the archive holdings (sound, photographic, manuscript)
* the library
* the building

Each has its own complexities, but the individual issues with each appear to have been conflated into the "the School is under threat" message. I don't know enough about each to pass comment, but here goes.

Sound Archive
It has been unfortunate that in the mass wave of concern, the excellent work of Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches has not necessarily been brought to the fore. Through this, as the review states, "about 80% of the primary research field tapes collection has been digitised". The notion that the sound archive would somehow be made "inaccessible" and "dispersed" after a multi-million pound project to digitise and make more widely available said archive, does not make sense. While there are debates to be had (cf. the review doc) as to how best to provide access to these digitised recordings, the fact that the majority of the tapes are now digitised, through a visionary project (albeit with its own flaws), means the sound archive holdings are not under substantial threat. Ironically, they are actually more accessible than ever!

Looking through the comments on the petition, it is clear that many of the signatories are totally unaware of this fact.

In real terms, then, the majority of the original physical tapes which have been digitised are no longer required on-site for regular access, as had been the case in the past. In fact, as the review states, already "The older SSSA master tapes made before 1958 are stored in the [University's] main library along with wax cylinders." This time period includes the halcyon days of Hamish Henderson first meeting Jeannie Robertson and recording in the berryfields.

This is not to undermine the value and importance of the original tapes; of course they should be preserved and maintained appropriately. But as the decades roll on, sustained use of them was never going to be an option; hence the relative urgency of the digitisation work.

One of the major issues I can see - which is referred to in the review - is the serious understaffing of the Archive to enable greater resourcing of requests for access, cataloguing and more outreach and impact work, although what the Archive has been doing in that regard in recent years has been splendid.

[One thing of note as a slight aside is a proposal being taken forward by the National Library of Scotland, in partnership with Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches, initially funded by the Scottish Government, to develop a new Scottish 'national sound archive'. The work on this has just begun in recent months. The review notes that this "could give an opportunity for the SSSA to clarify its work in relation to other archival institutions in Scotland"].

The library
I don't feel suitably informed to comment on this other than to say I would suspect that the Celtic & Scottish Studies library is not alone amongst class libraries across the university in being under pressure to rationalise its collection.

The building
As fantastic as it would be to continue to walk the same corridors as Hamish Henderson & co, the building is far from accessible, and does not meet the needs of the Disability Discrimination Act / Equality Act 2010. The University is under legal obligation to ensure its accommodation complies with this legislation, and I think we'd all agree that this is only right and proper. I would presume that a large portion of the funds seemingly announced is for this purpose, (which may tally with the email Jim McLean has received).

Well, I've gone on long enough - but suffice to say, I wish the students well, but I would urge caution - perhaps "more haste, less speed" - until official pronouncements are made by the university. While I'm not an authority on matters, I would hope that some of what I've outlined above will help put folks minds at rest that the Archive at least seems to be being considered with the respect and seriousness it deserves:

"A widely held view from those that we interviewed, including Archive staff, its users, the Head of the School and the Vice Principal, is that there is great potential for the SSSA. It would be politically unacceptable to close or to relocate it outside of the city. Integrating the Archives into Information Services risks breaking important academic input that has been at the foundation of the Archives from its inception. On the other hand the SSSA clearly needs to work more closely with central departments and share resources if it is to fulfil its potential."

It may well be of course, amongst all this, that the staff are not in a position to comment publicly, and are therefore content to let the student campaign run even if the message is rather mixed, as the outcry it has generated may produce the desired effect. Hopefully clarity will reign in the coming hours / days.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: GUEST,Jams O'Donnell
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 12:27 PM

I haven't read anything in the posts here that suggests the School was under threat. Or indeed that the archive was going to be destroyed (although I seem to remember a chilling reference to some items being 'surplus to requirements' and that's a judgment you don't want in the wrong hands).

The problem, as I understood it, was dispersal and the removal of the archive material from the expert staff who can help people to make best use of it. Of course Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches is a wonderful resource, and big thanks to Steve Byrne for his part in that, but it is partial, and we all need help and guidance sometimes. A library needs a librarian. I believe it's already acknowledged that the resource is understaffed. Dispersal would surely exacerbate that.

The track record of the University in knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing is well known. There are many other areas and departments that will testify to that, although I understand the staff are contractually prevented from public comment.

I would rather err on the side of safety, and I'm grateful that the students have raised the issue widely and loudly. At the very least the university authorities know that some people are watching. I suspect, though, that the good the current campaign is doing is a great deal further reaching than that.


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: Jim McLean
Date: 19 Feb 13 - 06:54 AM

I have just received this in answer to an email to the Scottish Government.

Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Directorate
Higher Education and Learner Support Division
T: 0300-244 6741
E: rona.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Mr Jim McLean
Byemail: jawmac@aol.com
Our ref: 2013/0002987 19th February 2013
Dear Mr McLean
 
Thank you for your email of the 4th February 2013 to Scottish Ministers regarding your concerns about the future of The School of Scottish Studies/Department of Celtic Studies at The University of Edinburgh. I have been asked to reply.
Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, is aware of concerns about the University of Edinburgh's proposals and has discussed these with the Principal. The Scottish Government has confirmed the importance of the archive collection to Scotland.
I understand that the University has issued a letter stating their continued commitment to Celtic and Scottish Studies and that a recent an external review of the School of Scottish Studies Archive concluded that the archive collections are vital to teaching, research and public engagement and of both national and international significance and that these should remain widely accessible. The University has said that it is committed not only to maintaining the provision but indeed to significantly increasing both the physical and digital availability of the archive.
As they continue to develop plans for the archives, the University has said that library and study spaces will remain in their current location at 29 George Square. They announced on the 4 February 2013 funding of £350,000 to upgrade this building to enable improved access for people with mobility issues.
Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow G2 8LU www.scotland.gov.uk
The University has said it is committed to raising funds to provide a new archive facility that widens the physical and digital accessibility of the Scottish Studies Archive collections in the future, and that until a new facility is created, the collections will be housed - with archival staff ? in their current location and will be cared for in alignment with the latest professional standards. Access to the archive collections for students, researchers and the public will be fully maintained and no materials that are needed for teaching or research will be moved.
I also understand that the University are currently advertising for the position of Chair of Celtic Languages, Literatures, History and Antiquities.
I hope this information is useful and addresses your concerns. Yours sincerely
Rona Hamilton
University Funding and Governance Team


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Subject: RE: School of Scottish Studies archive under threat
From: Steve Byrne
Date: 19 Feb 13 - 08:40 AM

Wonderful news Jim, thanks for posting. I've yet to receive the statement I requested, after several times of asking (holidays in the Principal's office, I'm told) - but I think the response from Mike Russell's team counts as absolute clarity! Well done to the campaigners. Looking forward to the improvements.


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