Friday, 15 May 2009

Update on Scottish Council on Archives Consultation

An initial project to explore ways to develop Scottish Archives Online is currently underway led by consultants Julian Tomlin and Martin Bazley on behalf of the Scottish Council on Archives. The assumption behind the project is that searchers for information, historical and current assume that if it can not be found on-line then it does not exist. Although information about collections of Scottish Archives can be found on-line, only a small percentage of individual names, places, dates and subjects held within such collections can be located. Scottish Archives require an infrastructure to open their rich and diverse holdings to people everywhere.

Building on the achievements of SCAN ( this project will provide a means by which all archive offices in Scotland will have detailed searchable information about their holdings online.

The consultants are scoping the potential size of Scottish Archives Online; investigating the current position of online archive catalogues in Scotland ; exploring options for an infrastructure, software and systems; and will produce costed options for further exploration.

This week the Martin and Julian ran focus groups in Glasgow with archivists and archives users to explore what is required for both archivists and users.

The final report will be ready by the end of June 2009.

Comments are welcome as to whether such an on-line catalogue is a desirable; do archivists have time to create on-line catalogues; who will use them; what do users want from archive catalogues; who is going to catalogue archival backlogs of collections?


  1. Hi, I think this is a very worthwhile project. As a member of the society and currently a postgraduate research student I find that there is no uniform approach to archives presentation. It is definitely a proactive step towards a more open use of Scotland's archived material. It can be difficult to always know what one is looking for and is the main reason that archive catalogues are so vital.

    Regarding the question of who will back catalogue the material, this can be achieved in a number of ways. First, it could potentially enhance the student archivist experience, by offering them the opportunity to catalogue some of the material. I would suggest that students are given the opportunity to catalogue the material, but there will of course need to be an assurance that quality inspections are undertaken and this will itself pose a labour intensive system. Alas there is no easy answer and so .... can there be any gain without pain?

  2. Anyone wanting a good example of how to put registration documents online (birth, marriage, death) should see what has been done by the second largest city in France - Lyons. In a few hours, I was able to find three generations of ancestors for a cousin of mine!
    They have actually scanned the orinal books so you can read/print a copy yourself.