The Scottish Group was the first of the Society’s Local Groups to be formed, in 1986, by Anne McCarthy and Moyra Forrest. It formed the model for other Groups. Our membership of about 60 is spread out over the whole of Scotland (30,400 square miles), including members in the Western Isles and Shetland. We generally meet twice a year, in April/May and September/October, usually for an afternoon. Anyone visiting Scotland is very welcome to join our meetings.

The Scottish Group runs a discussion forum that is open to members of the Society.

Further information

For further information, please contact the Scottish group coordinator, Fiona Firth

Forthcoming meetings

More details about the autumn meeting in due course (probably October in Glasgow).

Previous meetings

Tuesday 23 April 2019 at 11 a.m.National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW

“How any one can take indexing up as a calling passes my imagination.”

The Scottish group thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the John Murray Archive at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. Curator Kirsty McHugh and Digital Archivist Steve Rigden very generously gave their time for presentations about the history of the collection, its current state and the challenges involved in cataloguing and indexing such a vast body of material. The John Murray archive – which takes up over seventy linear metres – is unusual in that it provides a very full archive of the business, as well as a record of author-publisher relations through correspondence. Of particular interest to the group were bound, marked-up proofs of Lord Byron’s poetry, a letter from Charles Darwin to his publishers before the publication of Origin of Species, plus some ledger entries and correspondence relating to the commission of indexers. We also pored over a charming little typewritten volume known as ‘Dr Rae’s Rules’, indexing conventions used by the NLS from the 1920s until the 1980s and still used for reference today. Many of the decisions about name indexing were very familiar!

We also had a look around the current NLS exhibitions which as luck would have it, included more material from the archive in “Such seductive poetry: Byron’s Don Juan”. Then it was lunch at Howie’s in Victoria Street where we enjoyed a delicious meal and made a presentation to Linda Clark in recognition of her time as the Scottish group coordinator, from which she is now stepping down.

We would like to document our thanks here too: Linda has organised some wonderful and memorable SI Scottish group events over the years, and there are a number of current students in the Scottish group who are immensely grateful to Linda and to other longer-standing group members for their warm welcome and ongoing support. We look forward to our autumn meeting which is likely to be in Glasgow in October.

22 October 2018 – University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The group booked a room at the University of Strathclyde for this meeting, which was a training/CPD meeting. We started with a presentation on the development of the training course. This was delivered by Linda Clark, the outgoing organiser, with thanks to Jan Worrall, who provided much of the material. This generated a lively discussion, as the students attending ranged from Module A through to D on the training course. This wide span of indexing practice and experience gave a broad view.

Next came a conference report from Moyra Forrest, supplemented by Lyndsay Marshall, whose conference report you may have seen in SIdelights. We broke for coffee after this, then returned for a peer review. Everyone had made a good effort at indexing the text, a pamphlet called Tracing the History of your House, a big ask for the students just starting on Module A of the training course. Again, the discussion was lively, with substantial contributions from all attendees, often reflecting on issues from the course tests. We finished at lunchtime, and adjourned to a local restaurant for a well-earned lunch.

Following the meeting, I am delighted to announce that Fiona Firth, one of the students, has volunteered to step into the role of organiser while she completes the training course. It is envisaged that there will be a staged handover, with Fiona increasingly taking on the administration and organisation. She does not feel ready to take over the full role just yet, so I will continue as caretaker while she gets up to speed. I am sure the Scottish group will offer Fiona the same support that it has shown me and I think that we can all be very pleased that the continuation of the SI Scottish group is assured for some time to come.

Linda Clark

Thursday 22 March 2018 – Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD

The Scottish Group convened its spring meeting on Thursday 22 March at the remarkable building of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Members were given the grand tour of the gallery which has the most beautiful and evocative murals, art works, paintings, sculptures and photographs on display. Becky Howell, the librarian, gave an excellent introduction to the research, collection and public libraries based there. She spoke in detail about the in-house process of digitisation currently being carried out. She also gave a fascinating account of how the libraries were organised, including the bespoke classification system used by the library.

Anju Okhandiar