After seven years as Chair of the Standing Committee On Official Publications (SCOOP) I am standing down. I am delighted to say that Andy Zelinger, Resources and Collections Manager at the House of Lords is taking over from the next meeting (in September).
I joined SCOOP in 1987 and took over as Chair in 2010 so I served four more years in post than I originally agreed and it’s high time there was a change. In my period in office there have been number of achievements with which I am delighted to have been associated. The two most important happened at about the same time.
SCOOP Print Still Matters is a website compiled in 2012 by SCOOP’s then Secretary, Peter Chapman. It attempts to list all the major library and information collections in the UK which hold official publications, and what exactly they have. The work was prompted by discussion on producing a new edition of the House of Commons Library’s, ‘Parliamentary Holdings in Libraries in Britain and Ireland‘ (PHIL) 1993. Peter wrote to as many public, academic and other relevant libraries to gather information then created the website.
At roughly the same time we had an email from Steven Hartshorne of Bolton libraries, asking what help or advice we could give in deciding which official publications could be disposed of or sent to closed store. This has been an increasing problem for libraries, academic as well as public, who have seen an increased demand on physical library space from many quarters. This is accompanied by the mantra ‘it’s all on the internet’, which shows a surprising ignorance of the digital landscape. While it is true that more and more official publications are available online it is not explicit to the user what is available where. Publications can still be moved, updated or deleted without notice. Date parameters of online collections are not always obvious and other, especially older material, may still not be digitised. Some historical collections that have been digitised are available freely, whilst others are not.
Nonetheless SCOOP – largely in the person of Alastair Allan, my predecessor as chair – compiled a series of ‘Relegation Guides’ under various headings. They detail what was published and seek to identify what is commonly available or not and what is likely to be in demand. These aim to give guidance to those under pressure for space.
Those two efforts indicate the important work that SCOOP has done. Towards the end of my time I also edited contributions by SCOOP members to ‘British Librarianship and Information Work 2011-15’. I will blog about that in a few days so won’t say more now, except that the range of issues covered indicates that there is still a role for SCOOP.
A couple of years ago we revised the membership requirements for SCOOP meaning that in effect anyone working in Library and Information services can attend. We would welcome more people at meetings or even as ‘corresponding’ members. The aforementioned Steven Hartshorne has now become Secretary of SCOOP and you can contact him if you are interested.
Andrew Coburn, retiring Chair of SCOOP