Report to Heritage Lottery Fund

May 2000     

Report No 15



Issues Not Resolved

Delays in appointing staff.

Procurement Policy




Top Level Finding Aids Project

A total of 8 visits were made to participating archives during the month.  They were a mix of formal assessment visits, including Highland Council Archives and Dumfries Archive Centre, where formal TLFA work was expected to occur in the near future; and visits which were less formal, as TLFA work was not due until Year 3 (eg Royal College of Nursing Archives, Edinburgh).  These visits were well-received, as it allowed better knowledge of what we intended to do in the course of the next year or so.  The programme of visits will continue in the near future.  All the staff participate in these visits, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs.


Alan Borthwick and John MacKenzie undertook a week-long visit to Orkney Archives from 29 May.  This effectively began with a formal assessment visit, but had to be combined with the start of formal TLFA work there to make the trip worthwhile.  The week was hard work, but very successful.  It included a live radio interview for Alan on Radio Orkney on 1 June, two press interviews (for the Orcadian and the Press and Journal: see copies of subsequent published article enclosed), and a talk about SCAN as a whole to a joint meeting of the Orkney Family History Society and Orkney Heritage Society on 1 June.  The talk included a demonstration of the prototype web-site, the first time that it has been demonstrated to an outside, uninvited audience.  The reaction seemed favourable.


Alan gave an address about the standards to be used within the TLFA project to a joint NAS/SCAN seminar on 5 May about descriptive standards for archivists and electronic cataloguing.  Alan also spoke about the TLFA project to the meeting of the Users Group on 20 May. 


Work on the initial drafts of the Scottish Jewish Archive and Scottish Theatre Archive TLFAs was completed during the month.  The quality-check on the former was half-done by the end of the month.  The quality check on the Falkirk Museums History Research Centre initial draft TLFA was completed during the month.  A meeting was held with National Library of Scotland staff to review work on the first initial drafts of their TLFA entries, done by all the TLFA staff.  This was a useful opportunity to find out what a participating archive thought about some real entries, and the response was generally favourable.


TLFA staff made a start to work on the Jordanhill Campus Library TLFA and to a lesser degree the Greater Glasgow Health Board Archive TLFA during the month.  The latter should simply be a minor conversion job, as the essential TLFA work was completed some time ago by the GGHB staff.  Further consideration of the Lothian Health Services Archive TLFA was undertaken at the end of the month: the work here is largely driven by the archive itself, but with significant input from Rachael Third to ensure that the SCAN consistency is maintained.


John MacKenzie informed us during the month that he had been offered a job by the National Archives of Ireland, which he intended to take.  He had been interviewed for a job there before taking the SCAN job last year, had been kept on the reserve list in case anything arose there in the future, and a new job did come up.  By the end of the month his departure date from SCAN was unclear, but is likely to be before the end of June.  His departure is a blow to the project, and will certainly affect the throughput for the project until a replacement can be found and trained.


Special Archive Services Project

Robin Urquhart visited the Highland Council Archives in Inverness on 9th and 10th of May, demonstrating the prototype website to Archive and Library staff and carrying out research for the forthcoming virtual exhibition on the Highland Railway. Robin Urquhart also spent 23 and 24 May at the National Railway Museum at York, searching through the Museum’s substantial collections of photographs, posters and carriage prints, and agreeing a structure with the Museum’s staff.  Robin has also been creating scanned images of documents from Exchequer records for the palaeography texts in the SCAN palaeography page.


Robin Urquhart completed more draft FAQs on ‘Emigration’, and Knowledge Base entries on ‘Cinema’ (started by Janet McBain at the Scottish Film and Television Archive) and ‘Madeleine Smith’. Work was begun on knowledge base entries on vehicle licensing registers.  Robin Urquhart and Joanna Baird met with senior staff at NAS Reader Services to plan the development of the Knowledge Base, and co-ordinate the creation of entries, in the medium to long term.  Fewer topic pages and FAQs were drafted in May because of a higher than expected return of corrections/additions from quality controllers in participating archives. This is partly reflected in the higher number of topic pages and FAQs quality controlled.


Joanna carried out research at the National Library of Scotland for potential ‘featured documents’.  Joanna Baird has also drafted a report on the procurement of cameras, tables and lights for the use of the Special Archive Services team. Joanna Baird and Bill Paton visited the web-site design company ‘Multimedia Incorporated’ on Wednesday 10th May to discuss progress on the site. As a result it was agreed that the company would post examples of the suggested site design on the Internet so that SCAN staff can give feedback on the design effort so far. This was done on Friday 19th May.


Joanna showed two potential candidates for the post of digital imaging technician for the SAS round Thomas Thomson House. Both Joanna Baird and Robin Urquhart gave presentations to the Users Group meeting on Saturday 20th May as well as demonstrating the prototype SCAN web-site and the proposed new design outline.  Joanna Baird also demonstrated the prototype site to Ellis Weinberger from the CEDARS project.


Testaments Project

The Testaments Project workplan this month was materially affected by the requirement of the HLF, first adumbrated at the meeting on 2 May and then decided at a meeting on 18 May, to present the Camera Evaluation Report * in a re-cast form. This was done as requested on 26 May. The HLF’s response on 31 May received a reply the same day.

 (*This report was originally submitted on 13 March, with a follow-up clarification requested and sent to Dr Ross on 14 March).

The GSU expressed concern over delay in the camera procurement, as this impacted adversely on their recruitment of volunteers for the project.

Checking of the re-keyed testaments indexes by Hazel Anderson and Margaret Fox was put back by the above work, with the result that completion of the check will be delayed by one month.

Jane Hill, however, made excellent progress on checking and numbering the Aberdeen warrants of testaments (CC1/6), and this workpackage will now be finished ahead of schedule next month.

The four GSU volunteers continued their work of paginating and indexing post-1824 testaments registers of Aberdeen  (SC1/37), Cupar (SC20/50) and Perth (SC49/31).

On Saturday 20 May four members of the team attended the SCAN Users’ Group meeting and gave a joint presentation on the Testaments project.

On 24 May Hazel Anderson gave a talk on the SCAN project at the Northern Conference of the Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography, held in the National Railway Museum at York.


Throughput Reports


Special Archive Services


May 2000


May 2000


June 2000


Cumulative totals

Topic Pages - drafted





Frequently Asked Questions  - drafted





Topic Pages  - quality-controlled





Frequently Asked Questions - quality-controlled






Fewer topic pages and FAQs were drafted because of a higher than expected return of corrections/additions from quality controllers in participating archives. This is partly reflected in the higher number of topic pages and FAQs quality controlled.




May 2000- Predicted

May 2000 - Achieved

June 2000 - Predicted

Totals achieved

TLFA initial draft entries –drafted





TLFA initial draft entries  - quality controlled





TLFA entries  - revised within SCAN





TLFA entries –

agreed by SCAN and part. archive









May 2000


May 2000




Warrants (CC1/6)




Folders checked

15 (66-80)


4 (83-86). Completed

Pages numbered


5362 (p. 23606)


Testaments registers SC1/37/1-17,





Index entries created




Vols/Pages numbered




SC1/37 & SC11/38






May 2000


May 2000


June 2000


Vols. assessed



30 (CC8/8/81-110)

Folios cleaned




Vols. paginated




Folios conserved








Vols. completed




No new volumes assessed in May, due to time-consuming conservation required for volumes assessed in previous batch.




Drawdown request       30 March 2000            £108.248.48

Drawdown received     28 April 2000               £106,796.60

Drawdown request       17 April 2000               £39,033.91

Drawdown received     18 May 2000               £40,486.64

Drawdown request       16 June 2000               £27,345.81

Being processed by the end of the month




Staff employed 31 May  












In Progress

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


Participating Archives

Number of participating archives at month end   47

Change since last report                                                0




Statistics on Use of Network Facilities


None available

 Users Group


First meeting of this group will take place on Saturday 20 May at Thomas Thomson House. The chairman, Dr Murdoch, is writing a report which will be sent to the HLF.


Project Board

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










Notes of Project Board Meeting

8 May 2000


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


1.   Review of April work plans and agreement on May work plans:


1. 1      Special Archive Services sub-Project


1.1.1    This sub-project is currently on schedule.


1.1.2    It was noted that Robin is preparing a paper on knowledge base topics for consideration by the participating archives working group. Ishbel sated that it may be worth Helen and Alan drafting papers on their sub- projects for consideration also.


1.1.3    It was noted that the SAS team have also been visiting some of the participating archives.


The sub-project work plan for both April and May were agreed and approved. 


1.2       Testaments


1.2.1    It was reported that the digitisation programme is on schedule. However, some segments of data were found to be out of place on return from ADS. The Conservation programme is progressing slower than anticipated due to the high level of document repairs currently required. It is expected that an order for the digital cameras will be placed in May subject to the approval of the HLF. It was suggested that, in future work packages, specific tasks within the sub-project should be shown in graphical form, to show for example, the knock-on effects of the delay in camera procurement.


The sub-project work plan for both April and May were agreed and approved. 


1.3       Top Level Finding Aids sub-Project


1.3.1    Ishbel re-emphasised the need for a work-plan to be created for each archive, showing start and end dates for the project, together with the number of fonds to be completed in each case. It was also emphasised that each work-plan should have an official SCAN sign-off date.


1.3.2    George agreed to speak to Peter Anderson about progressing the NAS timetable for electronic cataloguing.


The sub-project work plan for both April and May were agreed and approved.


2.         Procurement


2.2.1    It was agreed that Rob would speak to Rick Laxman (GSU) regarding the ‘rights’ that were associated the GSU digitising software.


2.2.2    Rob outlined his presentation on ICT infrastructure to be presented to the HLF on 18 May.


3.         Staffing


3.1.1    It was noted that the conservator post is to be re-advertised.


3.1.2    It was noted that the Digital Imager post has been re-advertised as a promotion opportunity.


3.1.3    It was agreed that Ishbel would write to the HLF regarding the appointment of a casual employee over the summer period.


            4.         Finance


4.1.1    It was noted that payment of £106,796.60 in respect of the April drawdown request had been received. It was also noted that this amount was £1,452.50 less than the amount requested. The HLF have agreed to investigate and to add any shortfall into the May drawdown request.


4.1.2    It was noted that future drawdown requests will be submitted to the HLF on the 17th of each month and that the HLF will aim to make payment within 21 days.


I.                   SCAN Users Group


5.1.1    It was confirmed that the first meeting of the Users Group would take place on 20th May at TTH.


6.         Participating Archives Working Group


6.1.1    It was confirmed that the first meeting of the Working Group will take place on 30th May at TTH and that Irene O’Brien would act as chairperson.


7.         Communications Within SCAN


7.1.1    It was agreed that the first project team meeting held on 3 May had produced some positive results. It was also felt, however, that staff could have potentially contributed more to the forum. It was suggested that had the meeting gone on for longer then this may have happened. It was noted that the meetings should continue on a quarterly basis and that the subject matter should be more ad-hoc than regimented. It was agreed that the web site could act as a discursive focus for the next communications meeting.


8.         A.O.C.B


8.1.1    It was agreed that the HLF report narrative should, in future, record details of delays, which might impact on project deliverables. It was also agreed that the presentation of work package narratives should be assessed and recast to suit the revised HLF monthly report format. It was agreed that more emphasis needed to be placed on Performance against Target figures and that key performance indicators should be recast in advance of the August review.


8.1.2    It was suggested that consideration be given to co-ordinating a road-show event around October 2000 to report on project progress to the participating archives.


The next Project Board meeting will be held on Wednesday 7th June at 14.00 in Thomas Thomson House, Bankhead Crossway North, Edinburgh.



12 May 2000

























Notes of Project Board Meeting