Following a £35 million refurbishment, Kelvin Hall reopened last year as one of the UK’s biggest museums and research centres, a project in joint partnership between Glasgow University, the Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, the National Library of Scotland and Glasgow City Council.
As well as hosting the Moving Image Archive, this interactive space allows visitors to access the National Library’s digital licensed collections including films, maps, books and manuscripts in electronic format.
Moving Image Archive
For those who are unfamiliar, the Archive, previously a department of the one-time Scottish Screen, has been part of the National Library of Scotland since 2007. Its main purpose is to collect, preserve and promote access to films capturing Scottish culture and history, from the early days of film-making to the present day. In addition, the Archive includes a wide range of manuscript, printed material and memorabilia (check out the Steenbeck) relating to the development of cinema exhibition and film production in Scotland since 1896.
Learning and outreach
Moving from the outskirts of Glasgow last year to this more prominent position in the West End, public engagement is high on the agenda with opportunities for further learning provided through screenings, workshops, projects and online resources such as Scotland on Screen.
The National Library at Kelvin Hall is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, with Mondays and Wednesday mornings reserved for appointment-only visits by school classes and special-interest groups such as ours!
Learning and Outreach Officer, Sheena MacDougall, was our very knowledgeable guide for the afternoon. As a filmmaker herself, Sheena’s passion for the collections was clear and she deftly handled group members’ many and varied questions relating to acquisition, preservation and cataloguing of items, while providing us with opportunities to explore the interactive screens and exhibits.
Of course, “us law librarians” were interested to learn about copyright policies and trends. Like other formats, much will depend on method of acquisition, whether they be home movies donated by family members or cellulose nitrate reels (saved from a closing picture house) awaiting spontaneous combustion in someone’s attic! For items in copyright, the Library doesn’t give permission directly but can, where possible, provide copyright holder contact details on a case-by-case basis.
Professional filmmakers may receive public investment on the proviso that content is made accessible by the Archive, either onsite only or remotely via the website. The Moving Image Archive catalogue includes copyright information, as well as filters such as “Video availability” allowing you to select content based on permissions. More information on using footage can be found on the Archive website, including how to obtain copies of films.
A sense of place
Other catalogue filters include year, place, subject and many more, providing a hook for people of all ages and backgrounds. SLLG members got stuck in browsing by familiar towns (Largs, Melrose…) and were transported to different places and times with folk doing the same old things: singing, chasing after balls and sailing doon the watter.
It’s easy to envisage public libraries, schools and community groups finding great uses for this national resource, especially considering that screen media is the dominant form of cultural communication in this country. Again, the Scotland on Screen website contains further information on moving image education (MIE), including tutorials on discussing and analysing films, as well as creating a moving image essay.
West End delights
I could go on and on about this treasure trove of film and video but we must move on, as we did down Argyle Street to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, BrewDog and finally Mother India restaurant (“Not the café!”) on Westminster Terrace.
It may be a cliché but Mother India is a Glasgow, and now Edinburgh, institution. What a treat to dine on delicious food and catch up with long-standing, new and returning members before dashing for the train back east.
Many thanks to all who helped to make the afternoon and evening a success.