Well today was an excellent day for our campaign, with the blog topping 3,000 views and the petition reaching 2,000 signatures! Thank you all so much for the support you have given us; to those who have written letters, read this blog, written to University management, signed the petition and helped us out in all sorts of ways.
This is going to be a sort of ‘Editor’s Picks’ of the comments we have had on the petition to celebrate our 2,000 names milestone; we’ve had so many messages of support from so many different places it was very difficult to pick just a few but hopefully we have managed to do our support base justice. (If you are quoted here and you don’t want to be, please let us know and we will take your comment down; also if you do not see your comment/message below, please don’t take it personally – we really do appreciate them all!)
In other news, don’t forget that we have another Session on the Steps taking place this Friday at 1pm outside 27 George Square. These events have been brilliant so far and we might have a big name or two dropping by to say hello at some point so watch this space! There will be a bake sale this week and, as always, plenty of tea available – please do come along if you can manage it.
Anyway, here is a small selection of the great comments we have had on our petition:
Heather Holmes, Livingston:
It makes no sense to separate the facilities in the School. The Library and Sound Archive are such an integral part of the life and soul of the School for both the students and staff. The facilities enrich the experience of both. A separation of resources will be detrimental for the future prosperity of the School and all involved with it.
Derrick McClure, Aberdeen:
The School of Scottish Studies has a magnificent record of achievement. Its loss would be not only a blow to the field but a disgrace to Edinburgh and the entire Scotish academic community.
Katya Maslakowski, Chicago: With any science discipline the separation of equipment from those performing the research that makes a university like Edinburgh University, an internationally renowned institution, would be unthinkable. However, this is exactly what these proposals would do to Folklorists and Historians of Scotland. This represents the short-sighted nature of universities toward their humanities departments. Please consider that this material is delicate and important as a continual draw for the University and helps secure top graduate students that continue on the traditions of innovative scholarship in ethnology and folklore. The is no feasible benefit to this plan, and a huge cost in prestige and academic-face. Please consider this more carefully. Thank you.
Rory Larson, Lincoln: Endangered language and folklore material is priceless as heritage to the native people and to scholars all over the world. This should be kept in the hands of people who care about it organized as an institution to maintain it.
John Moulden, Derry: Specific research collections built up by specialists should be kept together, their accessibility sustained and controlled and not dispersed or placed where their value is unrecognisable.
Thalia Blacking, Edinburgh: I am a traditional musician and university teacher here in Edinburgh. Please don’t let the SSS become another victim of the profit pressures which are already causing so much damage within our higher education system and society as a whole.
Linda Gowans, Sunderland: How can a university, of all places, be thinking of separating a resource from the people who want to use it? It is the very special combination of staff and resources at the School which have enabled so many students and researchers both to contribute to a knowledge of Scotland’s culture and to achieve personal fulfilment in study and publication. The year 2014 would be the most ironic possible choice for Edinburgh University to demonstrate a lack of concern for Scotland’s cultural heritage.
Clive Sneddon, St Andrews: Keeping material together as collected preserves part of its meaning and value. A University should understand this, and act accordingly.
James Moreira, Machias, ME: If this plan is to place the collection in the general library for the sake of “efficiency,” that is ill-advised. The contents of folklore collections are of a particular kind and require very special forms of cataloguing, accession, and preservation. The best people to handle those tasks are folklorists. It is common practice, i.e. *best* practice, both in Europe and North America for folklore archives to be established and maintained by the (often small) institutes that created the collections. Even special collections librarians generally lack the proper training to maintain a folklore archives.
Peggy Bulger, Fernandina Beach: As the recently retired Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, I know how important the School of Scottish Studies and an integrated archive is to international reseach. Separating them would be a death knell to the preservation and promotion of traditional Scottish culture.
Jennifer Cutting, Takoma Park: Who is going to preserve Scotland’s great and unique cultural legacy (so hard-won!), if not the School of Scottish Studies? Separating its components will weaken and cripple the School of Scottish Studies. Keep it intact, and give the gift of Scottish cultural heritage to all the generations to come!
Stuart McHardy, Edinburgh: This flies in the face of all reason. No doubt it has come about because of some management-obsessed bean-counter with no awareness whatsoever of the roleof education other than to provide employment, looking to cut costs. That this has even been considered is an utter disgrace and makes me asheamed of my alma mater.
Peter Millington, Nottingham: As an alumnus of the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT), University of Sheffield, where a similar process has already taken place, I can assure you that the proposed project would severely impede future research into Scotland’s culture, language and traditions. Does Scotland really want to follow England’s example? Don’t do it!
Lorna Waite, Edinburgh: I spent months in the School of Scottish Studies listening to the only oral history tapes from my hometown. I come from a working class background and am a Gaelic learner also. The School exists as a connected community of speakers, resources, material culture and technical, pedagogic expertise which cannot be fulfilled by its fragmentation. I would also suggest that the proposals by the University would go against the terms of the statutory Gaelic Language Plan which the university has responsibility for. The School is a national asset, to atomise it is to actually say you care nothing for Scotland. It is an act of iconoclasm. Too often, Scottish culture has been inferiorised and marginalised. I see the university continuing this dynamic and it is culturally immoral.
June Factor, Melbourne: As the co-founder of the Australian Children’s Folklore Collection, now a treasure of Museum Victoria, I am conscious of the importance of maintaining a close connection between folklore archives, libraries, teaching and research. The Scottish Studies centre at the University of Edinburgh has been a model in this regard, and it would be against the interest of folklore scholarship to separate the archive collection from the libraries and the teaching and research scholars. I hope the university recognises the symbiotic relationship of resources, teaching and research and maintains and supports the School of Scottish Studies in its present form.
Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe, Glaschu: ‘S e goireas prìseal, luachmhor a th’ anns an togalach aig Sgoil Eòlas na h-Alba, leis an leabhar-lann is an tasglann far a bheil iad. ‘S e àite cudromach eachdraidheil a th’ ann cuideachd, agus tha mi den bheachd gum bitheadh e na chall mór do chultar mhuintir na h-Alba nam bitheadh e nas duiliche cothrom a fhaodainn air seudagan na Gàidhlig is na Beurla Gallda a th’ ann, gun teagamh. ‘S e sgaradh gun fheum a bhitheadh ann, agus tha e na chomharradh de lùghdachadh cor na Gàidhlig agus cudromachd cultar nan daoine.
Ian Ó Loingisgh, Dublin: Should this go through it would constitute a frightening precedent for similar archives, particularly here in Ireland….
Once again a massive thank you to everyone who’s signed this petition. It’s grown amazingly fast over the last couple of days, gaining over 1,000 names in 24 hours – we’ve all been blown away by how much support we’ve had from the wider community.
Hope to see some of you 2,000 signatories at one of our Friday sessions! Here are some photos as well from our previous session!