Report to Heritage Lottery Fund

March 2000 

Report No 13



Issues Not Resolved

Delays in appointing staff.

The post of Digital Imaging Technician for the Special Archive Services team was advertised in the Scottish Executive News on Wednesday 8 March but no applications were received. The post will be re-advertised in April.





Top Level Finding Aids Project

Formal assessment visits were carried out to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow (2 March) and West Lothian Council Archives, Livingston (29 March).  Because of the fairly advanced stage of development of the Physicians and Surgeons catalogue, it was possible to undertake almost all of the work required on that TLFA during the course of the month.

TLFA work also was well under way at the Scottish Theatre Archive and the Scottish Jewish Archive, both Glasgow, although the slightly unusual way in which the records are arranged in each place produced some problems in progressing the work.  By the end of month each was well advanced.

Further work took place at the National Library of Scotland, one of the projects where work will be spread over the lifetime of SCAN, it is expected, because of the quantity of material and the highly individual state of the catalogues.  Some time in April or early May we hope to have the chance to speak to NLS staff about the state of play here.  Some TLFA work was also undertaken within the National Archives of Scotland.


Alan Borthwick gave an update on the work of the TLFA project at the participating archives meeting on 23 March.  In particular, he spoke about the project’s adoption of the revised edition of ISAD(G), one of the main international standards underpinning the project’s work.  It seemed that very few of the audience indeed had heard of the (restricted) issue of the revised edition of ISAD(G) (which will be formally launched later this year), and the offer to make electronic copies of it available from SCAN was warmly welcomed.  Rather unfortunately one of  the  participating archives  posted news of this offer on a list-serv which resulted in a flood of requests (over 100 by the end of March) from all over the world for a copy of ISAD(G).  In this way, however, SCAN was able to respond to a clearly felt need amongst the international archive community.


Alan Borthwick began to read over the initial draft TLFAs for Perth, Angus and Falkirk archives.  This work proved more time-consuming than expected, and by the end of the month the reading of none of the initial drafts had been completed.

The formal 6-month probation reviews of the work of Rachael Third and John MacKenzie were completed at the end of the month.  These reports are required under the Scottish Executive’s annual staff reporting procedures. 


Special Archive Services Project

Robin Urquhart attended a Photoshop course on Thursday 2 March.

Joanna Baird attended an “Investors in People” seminar, arranged by the Scottish Executive, 9 March. The post of Digital Imaging Technician was advertised in the Scottish Executive News on Wednesday 8 March. No applications were received by the closing date of 24 March. Joanna Baird and Robin Urquhart gave presentations on ‘designing the SCAN web-site’ and ‘the Knowledge Base’ respectively on Thursday 23 March at the Participating Archives meeting. The Special Archive Services team demonstrated the SCAN prototype to the audience.

Joanna Baird sent out acceptance and rejection letters to the 3 web-site design companies who had tendered in response to the SCAN web-site specification. The first meeting with the chosen web-site design company, Multimedia Incorporated, was held on Monday 20 March. Present were Ishbel Barnes, Joanna Baird and Stuart Low of SCAN and Graeme McClurkin and Andrew Brickell of Multimedia Incorporated. A follow-up meeting was held on 31 March when Joanna Baird visited Alex Wilson and Andrew Brickell at the Multimedia offices in Glasgow.

Joanna Baird and Robin Urquhart held a meeting with staff of the National Railway Museum in York on Thursday 30 March to discuss the progress of the exhibition on the Far North Line, ‘North by Northwest’. It was agreed that Robin would visit the NRM in the near future.

Robin Urquhart visited the following archives on 27 and 28 March, Northern Health Services Archive, Aberdeen City Archives, Aberdeenshire Archives and Aberdeen University Archives. He demonstrated the prototype web-site and collected some images of the Northern Health Services Archive for the ‘Virtual Tour’ facility.


Testaments Project

A written evaluation of the digital camera trials held in February was sent to the HLF and to the SCAN assessors. The evaluation showed that none of the cameras offered through the tendering process fully met the requirements of the specification and recommended that a camera system similar to that developed by the GSU be acquired. Negotiations on the acquisition of such a system are continuing, with a definite result expected in April.

Test disks of the pre-1823 testaments indexes were received and checked during the month, and discs of the complete indexes were delivered by Advanced Data Services on 29 March (in compliance with the 3 April deadline).

Hazel Anderson and Peter Dickson attended an ‘Investors in People’ seminar on 9 March, and Peter underwent Staff Appraisal training on 20 & 21 March. Both the seminar and training were organised by the Scottish Executive.

All the Testaments team, including the GSU volunteers, were involved in the SCAN Participating Archives meeting on 23 March. Hazel Anderson, Jane Hill and Peter Dickson gave a presentation on digital capture and conservation.

Jane Hill’s progress on checking and numbering the Aberdeen warrants was slowed down due to the disorder of the late 18th century records.

Margaret Fox completed assessment of the existing indexes of post-1823 testaments and drew up a schedule for having them re-keyed.


Throughput Reports


Special Archive Services


March 2000Predicted

March 2000 Achieved

April 2000-


Topic Pages - drafted




Frequently Asked Questions  - drafted




Topic Pages  - quality-controlled




Frequently Asked Questions - quality-controlled







March 2000- Predicted

March 2000 - Achieved

April 2000 - Predicted

TLFA initial draft entries –drafted




TLFA initial draft entries  - quality controlled




TLFA entries  - revised within SCAN




TLFA entries –

agreed by SCAN and part. archive





To allow better compilation of the monthly statistics it has been decided that the format should be: TLFA entries which have reached the initial draft stage; entries which have been checked by the Team Leader (the quality control); entries revised within SCAN, at this stage also seen by the Project Director; and finally entries which have been agreed by the participating archive and SCAN as ready for posting on the web-site.  If we did not have the extra stage then it would be difficult to reflect the work of revising the initial draft entries which have been checked by the Team Leader, which in some cases will take a little time to do, before they can be sent off to the participating archive.










March 2000


March 2000


April 2000


Warrants (CC1/6)




Folders checked

14 (42-55)

9 (42-50)

10 (51-60)

Pages numbered




Testaments registers (SC1/36, 8/35, 49/31, 20/50




Index entries created




Vols/Pages numbered




Output by the four GSU volunteers greatly exceeded the predicted figures, partly due to an uninterrupted working routine. Mr and Mrs McLaws finished their indexing task in the middle of the month and were able thereafter to concentrate on paginating. Mr and Mrs Blakely’s increasing familiarity with the Aberdeen registers (SC1/36) has led to an increased output in both indexing and paginating. 




March 2000


March 2000


April 2000


Vols. assessed




Folios cleaned




Vols. paginated




Folios conserved








Vols. completed




Predicted throughput figures for Conservation for March were adversely affected by sick leave (8 days), as well as the necessity of removing old repairs obscuring text in some of the volumes.




A drawdown  for £108,248.48 was submitted on 30/3/2000.





Total staff employed 31 March 2000










In Progress

Digital cameras; cabling requirements for digital cameras; web server and storage; cataloguing software.



Participating Archives


Number of participating archives at month end


Changes since last report



A participating archive meeting was held at Thomas Thomson House on 23 March.


The participating archive working group is beginning to take shape. So far the following groups have appointed representatives:

Society of Archivists – Chairman: Dr Irene O’Brien (Glasgow City Archives)

Archivists of Scottish Local Authorities Working Group: Ms J Cripps (Aberdeen City Archives)           

Scottish Universities Special Collections and Archives Group:    await reply

Health Boards and medical archives:     Dr M Barfoot (Lothian Health Services Archive)

National Institutions:      Mrs O Geddes  (National Library of Scotland)

NAS:   Mrs R Gibson/Dr D Brown




Statistics on Use of Network Facilities


None available




The first Users Group meeting will be held on Saturday 20 May at Thomas Thomson House.


Project Board


The Project Board met on 8 March, its minutes are appended to this report.



Ishbel Barnes

14 April 2000











Notes of Project Board Meeting

8 March 2000


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


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


1. 1      Testaments sub-Project


1.1.1    As the conservator post has not been filled it was agreed that Hazel Anderson should recast the Testament sub project to take this into account and re-schedule the workflow as necessary.


1.1.2    It was confirmed that the GSU camera would be available from the end of May. Work was progressing with acquiring the remaining digital cameras.


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


1.2       Top Level Finding Aids sub-Project


1.2.1    No problems were reported and progress is continuing satisfactorily.


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


1.3       Special Archive Services sub-Project


1.3.1    It was confirmed that the knowledge base has now been split into ‘Topic Pages’ and ‘FAQ’s’. It was also confirmed that Robin was now adding details of counties and parishes to the knowledge base.


1.3.2    It was agreed that participating archives should be encouraged to follow the example of Janet McBain and contribute FAQ’s on the subjects where they had special expertise.


1.3.3    In order to establish some level of consistency it was agreed that it would be useful to draw up a structure for the creation of ‘virtual tours’ which would be made available to participating archives who wanted to design such a tour.


1.3.4    Joanna is to consult with Rob on which digital camera to purchase.


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


2.         Procurement


2.1.1    It was agreed that a meeting should now be set up between SCAN and the web site design company and that it would be prudent for Jim Grady to be in attendance to advise on ceiling costs etc. It was emphasised that the demarcation line between design and implementation must be very clearly defined.


2.1.2    George and Ishbel are to prepare papers on the ARKIS 2 software package, which is being evaluated with a view to becoming the standard software interface for the EUAN project. It was agreed that these papers could also serve as a policy document for both SCAN and the NAS in defining software standards. George further suggested that seminars on ARKIS 2 could be arranged with Swedish counterparts later this spring.


3.         Staffing


3.1.1    The Digital Imaging post has now been advertised.


3.1.2    It was agreed that consideration be given to the appointment of an additional conservator at a later date.


3.1.3    It was agreed to create a staff movement sheet for SCAN staff. Stuart will create a weekly template which should be completed each Friday and posted on the Network.


4.         SCAN Participating Archives Working Group


4.1.1    It was agreed to consult the Keeper about who should represent the NAS.


            5.         SCAN Users Group


5.1.1    The first meeting of the Users Group has been re-scheduled to May at Dr Murdoch’s request.


The next Project Board meeting will be held on Wed 5 April at 14.00 in Thomas Thomson House, Bankhead Crossway North, Edinburgh.



13 March 2000