CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Fiona Laing, National Library of Scotland

Category: Meet our Members

This blog is part of our Meet our Members series, focusing on different members and their careers. 

My name is Fiona Laing and I am the Official Publications Curator at the National Library of Scotland.

I have been fortunate to work for the National Library for over 35 years in many different areas including interlibrary loans, Readers Services, serials cataloguing and official publications.

The core part of my work is to ensure that the National Library holds a comprehensive collection of publications from not just the Westminster Parliament, Scottish Parliament and the devolved assemblies but their respective government departments and agencies, as well as some intergovernmental bodies, either in print or in digital format.

At one time there was a team of nine staff working with Official Publications (OPs) but I am now the last man (woman) standing. As there are approximately 2 million items in the Library’s OP collection this is a huge responsibility and a great challenge

Today there are very few librarians whose sole remit is purely official publications. Their expertise has been diluted by being given additional areas of responsibility. I feel there is a misconception that all government information is now online and therefore easier to find. In fact this only makes it more accessible and a certain amount of expertise and guidance is still required in order to find the most recent and most relevant version of a document that you are looking for.

My job tends to be very reactionary. I answer enquiries on all aspects of the collections and parliamentary procedure. I might be called upon to speak to a donor who arrives at the library wishing to donate material.  I also select material for digitisation, checking copyright, the condition of the material, availability of metadata and what has already been digitised externally.   I curate displays and get involved in exhibitions. I give presentations on our e resources and assist in the development of online learning resources.

I really enjoy promoting our amazing collections. There is something for absolutely everyone in the National Library, whatever their interests. My challenge is to promote the potential of the government publications collection to anyone who may not have considered using these resources.

Networking has proved most beneficial in my career. I run a Scottish network for anyone working or interested in Official publications (SWOP) I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise with others and also learning from my peers.

As a member of CILIP I am involved in the Government Information Group and Chair the Standing Committee on Official Publications.   I enjoy my mentoring role and being able to encourage and motivate younger staff entering the profession. I am passionate about libraries and what we can achieve when we work together. I enjoy attending the annual CILIPS Conference and always come away with new ideas or make contacts that can lead to new partnerships and projects for the National Library.

For anyone entering the profession I would say that the more effort you put it in the more you will get out. Join external networks and share knowledge. There is so much to learn but so much to be gained. You can make a difference.


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