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CLAN: Preliminary Meeting Minutes

posted Jul 30, 2013, 4:43 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Oct 4, 2013, 8:31 AM ]

The preliminary meeting of CLAN was hosted at: YORK MEDICAL SOCIETY, 23 STONEGATE, YORK YO1 8AW on 15 MARCH 2013. 

The minutes of the meeting were as follows:

1               Welcome and Introduction Brian Cummings (York)

Four types of things that we might consider for CLAN (aside from its general constitution and possible relationship with the Cathedral Libraries and Archives Association [CLAA]):

1. The possibility and benefits of using digital technologies to showcase treasures of libraries.

2. The possibility of benefits of collaborative research and the way in which this might evolve. We might, for example, want to think about starting with a research network with larger research collaborations following in due course.

3. What are the possible funding opportunities?

4. Education and outreach. This would include making collections known about and open to wider general public, training days for graduates and/or library volunteers etc.

2               Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library)

Overview of the history of Lambeth Palace Library, its development, holdings and purpose. Interesting pattern before Bancroft of giving books to Oxford/Cambridge colleges--e.g. Matthew Parker and Corpus Christi College Cambridge. But there are some Parker books at Lambeth (and elsewhere) and also some Whitgift volumes in Cambridge (and elsewhere).

Many medieval mss with monastic connections. Also Royal collections ended up at Lambeth. And there are printed books with interesting provenance. And the archival holdings have grown considerably since the 1950s, with virtually a complete run of archbishops' papers from the 1870s to the present.

Giles supports the idea of collaborative exhibitions and virtual reconstructions of scattered collections.

3               Sheila Hingley (Durham)

Cathedral libraries were linked to HEIs in 1960’s. In 1990’s this began to break down. York seems to be the only place where there has been a more or less continuous link. Good benefits to be had from links. Perhaps an aim of CLAN might be to revivify links between Universities and Cathedral Libraries. Sheila’s priorities and concerns are: (i) How to justify the existence of C. libraries. Always looking for funding; (ii) Housing and preserving collections; (iii) Cathedral librarians create inventories, manage collections and (iv) role of digitization.

Cathedral Libraries and Archives Associates (CLAA) produce a newsletter that would be of interest to CLAN members.

Cathedral Libraries contain much more than theology (Science, Medicine, History etc). Do not see academic research as part of Cathedral Librarians remit. Hereford uses their library as a tourist site.

There is a need to create more stakeholders who will voice their support and help cathedral libraries with the ongoing need to justify their existence, as well as improve preservation and increase access.

4               David Shaw (Canterbury)

Cathedral Libraries catalogue. Funded by Pilgrims Trust. 1944-56 initial phase. 76-83 next phase. Only books up to 1700. 52,000 items recorded. Books loaded onto COPAC.

Possible CLAN projects: (i) no cataloguing project exists for post 1700 books. Maybe CLAN could provide a focus for doing this, (ii) there are issues around who’s not on COPAC and (iii) there is a need to create computer-based catalogue(s) for 18th and 19th century.

5               Discussion

1. (Christopher deHamel) Why do cathedral libraries matter?

(Sheila Hingley) They do represent cathedrals in the sense that cathedral librarians did (and do) have to solicit books. And they represent larger collections so you can find personal collections scattered between different libraries.

2. (Helen Smith) How important, from a strategic point of view, is it to get the public into cathedral libraries? And the related question how do you get them in.

(Sarah Griffin) Important. It helps to justify our existence. We need advocates. Generally get them in through exhibitions.

3. (Jo Wisdom) CLAN might want to consider the significance of, and its role in, bringing together holistic approaches. Map across different libraries. Could also work virtually.

4. (Mary Garrison) There is a magic and a beauty with cathedral libraries. It is important not to lose that. Jo Wisdom said that he hoped this and his point were not mutually exclusive.

5. (David Shaw) People do love seeing the inside of these places. It’s part of the job of the Dean and Chapter.

6. (Jo Wisdom) There can be an enormous impact from a small exhibition. Jo gave the example of a two case exhibition in St Pauls that had a very high impact.

7. (Christopher Norton) What do people think are the threats to Cathedral libraries? Especially given the introduction of Care of Cathedral Measure in 1990.

(Jo Wisdom) One key element is the permissive way in which ‘outstanding’ is defined. This varies from cathedral to cathedral.

(Sarah Griffin?) There is another issue. How many members of the Fabric Advisory Committee know anything about books? The Fabric Advisory Committee has the power to stop Dean and Chapter doing silly things such as selling objects.

Possible advisory and/or research roles for CLAN.

(David Shaw) These measures (presumably the care of cathedrals measure?) did have the effect of making people think about inventories. They stimulated thoughts about catalogues. 

6               Discussions following breakout.

Council Room (Bill Sherman)

1. Research issues around women in cathedral libraries and the significant role that they have played. Miss Hands mentioned.

2. How do we build communities of interested parties. Building a wider constituency of users goes down well with politicians.

3. Current state of the Heritage Lottery Fund is healthy. Good source of funds. £100k relatively easy. Although these funds cannot be used for research – outreach and conservation possible. From 1st April they will also support projects that are primarily or exclusively digital (including mss and archives).

Library group (Giles M)

1. Website could be developed with a blog and email list. Discussion about hosting site – thought HEI preferable. Bibliographical Society might want to be involved in some way. Slight possibility of funding from Bib Soc.

(Brian Cummings) University of York has discussed this and intends setting up and hosting a CLAN website.

2. The group thought that there were a range of different types of research projects. These included Archbishops Libraries, Libraries as repositories for news, topics across cathedral libraries etc. Perhaps need to start small with one particular library and collection. Might involve digitization.

(3) Need to identify materials that would help to reconstruct communities of libraries with broader awareness around which intellectual communities could be involved and evolve.

(4) Useful for the CLAN network to undertake a survey of what is actually being done (including around cataloging) at the moment. This should include work that has been and is being undertaken with CLAA. (Sheila H. did some work on this circa 5 years ago.)

(5) Getting funds to undertake cataloguing would be useful.

(Bill Sheils) Need to be clear about where CLAN will sit with CLAA. This needs exploring

(Jo Wisdom) The acronym CLAN is like CLAA. I hope they will support this acronym. CLAN should be seen as a user of cathedral libraries and can therefore act as someone who can validate existence of cathedral libraries and act as a pressure group.

(Helen S) HEIs are, through their research, being asked to “make a difference” and this includes making a difference to policy.

Mary Garrison’s Group

1. Considered ways in which York and Durham might work together.  This included BioArch might usefully contribute to Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition.  Future collaborations might include collaboration on large grant proposals and sharing publicity (such as leaflets) for exhibitions.

2. Sharing best practice. This could be a useful aim of CLAN.

(Helen Smith) AHRC are suspicious of cataloguing projects. They would be interested in cataloguing initiatives that improved practice.

Brian Cummings Group

1. Possibility of large exhibitions with long term plans using cathedral libraries and the British Library. CLAN could offer expertise to guide and encourage exhibitions.

2. Cathedrals might want to use CLAN website for smaller digital exhibitions.

(Jo Wisdom) Exhibitions could be focused around a cluster of cathedrals, such as the 3 choirs.

(Helen Smith and Michele Campopiano) there are, and possibly in the longer term, enormous European possibilities. 

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