Report to Heritage Lottery Fund

February 2000        

Report No 12





Issues Not Resolved

Issue  99/6

Delays in appointing staff.

The B1 conservator post has not been filled through lack of adequately qualified applicants. It has been decided to leave the post vacant meantime and to consider the post again at the end of the academic year.


Issue Resolved

2 IT staff appointed at grade B2. They will start work in April





Top Level Finding Aids Project

Assessment visits were paid to the following during the month: Scottish Jewish Archive Centre, Glasgow (9 Feb); Lothian Health Services Archive, Edinburgh (11 Feb); and the Scottish Theatre Archive, Glasgow (23 Feb).  Reports on the SCAN TLFA work to be done within those archives were compiled and sent off to the head of the appropriate archive.


TLFA compilation continued at Perth and Kinross Council Archives, Angus Archives, and at Falkirk Museum History Research Centre.  By the end of the month the first of those TLFAs was very nearly completed in draft, and the second and third were complete in draft.  All three now require to be read through by Alan Borthwick, and once that is done and Ishbel Barnes has looked over them in less detail they can be sent off to the appropriate head of archive for comments and discussion.


TLFA work started at the National Library of Scotland, the Lothian Health Services Archive, Edinburgh, the Scottish Theatre Archive, and the Scottish Jewish Archive Centre, Glasgow.  The first of these tasks is a long-term one which will be spread over many months, due to the size of the archive.  The second requires very little work, as the bulk has already been done by that archive’s staff.  The third and fourth will require a fair bit of SCAN staff work, although both the archives are quite small.  As and when other commitments permitted, work continued on one of the other long-term projects, the compilation of the National Archives of Scotland TLFA.


In the absence of the SCAN IT complement, it was difficult to make much progress with data output consideration, and the TLFA project has therefore concentrated for now on creating TLFA entries which will be available for experimentation by the IT staff when they arrive.

Jo Peattie, Rachael Third and John MacKenzie all attended a general induction day for new Scottish Executive staff, arranged by the Scottish Executive, 4 February.  All 4 of the team attended a presentation about digitization of records given by Rick Laxman, Genealogical Society of Utah, 11 February.  Alan Borthwick attended an informal discussion of the Swedish “Arkis 2” relational database system, 25 February.  Alan Borthwick attended an “Investors in People” seminar, arranged by the Scottish Executive, 28 February.



Special Archive Services Project

Joanna Baird and Robin Urquhart both visited the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Scottish Film and Television Archive on Tuesday 1 February. They also collected further images for the Virtual Tour facility of the web-site. Robin Urquhart attended the Scottish Executive induction day on Friday 4 February.

Joanna Baird revised the ‘Scottish Wills’ part of the prototype web-site to make it more user-friendly. Many other parts of the prototype web-site were also revised and updated. The prototype web-site has been made available internally to the staff of the National Archives.

 Joanna Baird spent the week beginning 7 February evaluating the various digital cameras that were on trial.

Joanna and Robin met with the photographers of the National Railway Museum on Thursday 17 February – Lynn Patrick and Chris Hogg –to discuss progress on the exhibition on the Far North Line. Several of the participating archives have now asked for material from their collections to be included.

Joanna Baird and Jim Grady of the NAS held a meeting on Friday 18 February to carry out a formal evaluation of the web-site design tenders.

Joanna Baird compiled a job description and person specification for the post of digital imaging technician and submitted these to the Scottish Executive’s personnel section for eventual inclusion in the Scottish Executive News.


Testaments Project

 Trials of 4 digital cameras specified in the tenders took place in the week beginning 7 February at Thomas Thomson House, carrying out digital capture of selected material from the testaments. In the same week technical staff from the GSU brought in their camera for trials, using the same material. Seamus Ross, our IT assessor, attended the trials on 9 February. At the end of the week, Rick Laxman, manager of GSU production imaging systems, gave a presentation on digitising to which colleagues from participating archives were invited. One further trial took place on 21 February, at the request of one of the tendering companies. CD ROMs of the images captured were submitted by each of the tendering companies.

Two new GSU volunteers, Mr and Mrs McLaws, joined the team on 23 February and began work on paginating and indexing registers of Rothesay testaments (SC22).

Margaret Fox began work on assessing the existing indexes of post-1823 testaments in order to draw up a schedule for having them re-keyed.

  Jane Hill continued checking, selecting and numbering the pre-1824 warrants series of Aberdeen testaments (CC1/6).

  Hazel Anderson gave a presentation at an IT forum on the digitisation of archives, organised by the Society of Archivists at Liverpool University, on 16 February.





Throughput Reports


Special Archive Services


February 2000Predicted

February 2000 Achieved

March 2000-


Topic Pages - drafted




Frequently Asked Questions  - drafted




Topic Pages  - quality-controlled




Frequently Asked Questions - quality-controlled







January 2000- Achieved

February 2000 - Achieved

March 2000 - Predicted

TLFA entries -drafted




TLFA entries  - quality controlled




TLFA entries  - agreed





The January and February achieved totals differ widely because for each of the first three TLFAs work was nearing completion at end January, and there was therefore very little to count for them in February onwards.  Although momentum has been built up in the next group of TLFAs the archives being covered (except the National Library of Scotland) are not so large as the first three.  No TLFA entries can be formally completed until at the earliest some time during April.













January 2000


February 2000


March 2000


Warrants (CC1/6)




Folders checked

16 (17-32)

9 (18-41)

14 (42-55)

Pages numbered




Testaments registers (CC1/36, CC8/35)




Index entries created




Vols/Pages numbered








January 2000


February 2000


March 2000


Vols. assessed




Folios cleaned




Vols. paginated

1/335 ff



Folios conserved








Vols. completed
















Total Staff Employed at 29 February 2000


New Appointments

2 Mr and Mrs McLaws








In Progress

The following were submitted for comment to the HLF:

Digital cameras; cabling requirements for digital cameras; web server and storage;

website design.



Participating Archives


No of Participating Archives at month end


Changes since last report




Statistics on Use of Network Facilities

None available



Dr Murdoch is now waiting for replies to his invitations to participate from members of the Users Group.


Project Board

The Project Board met on 12 February, its minutes are appended to this report. 


Ishbel Barnes

16 March 2000


































Notes of Project Board Meeting

16 February 2000


Present: Ishbel Barnes, Rob Mildren, George Mackenzie, Stuart Low.


1.   Review of January work plans and agreement on February work plans:


1. 1      Testaments sub-Project


1.                  It was noted that the camera trials were now complete. The original planning assumptions on which imaging throughput had been based were deemed to have been appropriate to the technology available at the time. The trials have, however, indicated that throughput will now be faster then anticipated. Rob and Hazel will compile a report by the end of February 2000.


The sub-Project work plan for both January and February were agreed and approved. 


1.2       Top Level Finding Aids sub-Project


1.2.1    It was affirmed that the TFLA sub-project is on schedule.

The sub-Project work plan for both January and February were agreed and approved. 


1.3       Special Archive Services sub-Project


The sub-Project work plan for both January and February were agreed and approved. 


2.         Work packages


2.1.1    It was agreed that work packages should now be submitted in tabular form. Stuart is to design a template for the collation of performance statistics after discussion with sub-project team leaders to agree appropriate format.



3.         Staffing


            3.1.1    The candidate who was offered the conservation post has still not decided whether to accept or not. Ishbel to contact Steven Craig at Personnel to see if a deadline can be imposed.


3.1.2    Rob has interviewed 3 candidates and wishes to employ 2 of them at B2 level, as this would be justified by the present workload. Ishbel is to confirm with Steven Craig that these appointments can now go ahead.


3.1.3    The vacancy for the digital imager is now with Personnel.


4.        Tenders


1.                  Joanna is meeting with Jim Grady on 18/02/00 to discuss the web site tenders. Joanna to be asked to write a tender evaluation document for Seamus Ross and to copy it to Mike Smethurst.


2.                  Rob is producing a paper on Web server data storage/Internet connection for consideration by Seamus Ross.


5.         Finance


5.1.1    It was confirmed that HLF had verbally agreed to release the funds necessary to obtain the digital cameras. This has as yet to be confirmed in writing but Ishbel has sent off a letter of intent to purchase the cameras to Mike Smethurst.


5.1.2    Stuart to contact Bob Philips and refer him to Ishbel to discuss accommodation costs. Rob confirmed that NAS are not paying for SCAN Internet connections.


5.1.3    Ishbel, George and Rob are to meet with Michael Baxter, the newly appointed NAS Accountant on 17/02/00.


The next Project Board meeting will be held on 8 March at 14.00 in Thomas Thomson House, Bankhead Crossway North, Edinburgh.



18 February 2000