Subfonds GSAA/ISE - Records of Information Services

Lending Museum Loose Material Information on Loans of Animals

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Records of Information Services


  • c1900-2004 (Creation)

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7 boxes plus 2.5 bankers boxes and 5 archive boxes of uncatalogued material

Content and Structure

Scope and content

Some of this material is currently uncatalogued and therefore not accessible for researchers. Includes various inventories, catalogues, committee papers, minutes of meetings, correspondence, conservation management plans, and other material regarding the GSA and the committees listed below. Committee papers held within this department include - Learning Resources Committee, Learning Resources Working Group, Library Committee, Museum and Archives Committee, Museum Management Committee.

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This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.


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General Information

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Glasgow School of Art has its origins in the Glasgow Government School of Design, which was established on 6 January 1845. The Glasgow Government School of Design was one of twenty similar institutions established in the United Kingdom's manufacturing centres between 1837 and 1851. Set up as a consequence of the evidence given to the House of Commons Select Committee on Arts and their connection with Manufactures of 1835-1836, the Government Schools hoped to improve the quality of the country's product design through a system of education that provided training in design for industry. Somerset House was the first of such schools to be established, opening in 1837, and others followed throughout the provinces.

In 1853 the Glasgow Government School of Design changed its name to the Glasgow School of Art. Following the receipt of some funding from the Haldane Academy Trust, (a trust set up by James Haldane, a Glasgow engraver, in 1833), The Glasgow School of Art was required to incorporate the name of the trust into its title. Consequently, it became the Glasgow School of Art and Haldane Academy, although by 1891 the "Haldane Academy" was dropped from the title. Glasgow School of Art was incorporated in 1892. In 1901 the Glasgow School of Art was designated a Central Institution for Higher Art Education in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Initially the School was located at 12 Ingram Street, Glasgow, but in 1869, it moved to the Corporation Buildings on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. In 1897 work started on a new building to house the School of Art on Renfrew Street, Glasgow. The building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, former pupil of The Glasgow School of Art. The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second in 1909.

The Government Schools ran courses in elementary drawing, shading from the flat, shading from casts, chiaroscuro painting, colouring, figure drawing from the flat, figure drawing from the round, painting the figure, geometrical drawing, perspective, modelling and design. All these courses were introduced from the start at the Glasgow School apart from that of design. The course in design was the "summit of the system" where students came up with original designs for actual manufactures or decorative purposes and it was not until 1849, when Charles Heath Wilson became headmaster, that classes in design began to be taught. Also in this year Bruce Bell was engaged to teach mechanical and architectural drawing.

After 1853 the above pattern of courses was extended to 26 stages which formed the national curriculum for art schools. This system was known as the South Kensington system. An Art Masters could be awarded by gaining certificates in the available subjects. There was no restriction on entry and students could take as long as they wished to accumulate their passes before being awarded their Art Masters.

In 1901 the Glasgow School of Art was given the power to award its own diplomas. In the same year Art 91D classes for day school teachers commenced which were later known as the Art 55 classes. From 1901 to 1979 the School of Art awarded its own diplomas and thereafter it awarded degrees of the Council for National Academic Awards. In the 1970s the School of Fine Art and the School of Design were established. With the demise of the Council for National Academic Awards, from 1993 Glasgow University awarded the School's degrees in fine art and design.
In 1885 the Glasgow School of Art taught architecture and building construction conforming to the South Kensington system. Following on from the designation of the School as a Central Institution and the empowerment of the School to award its own diplomas, the School and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College worked together to produce a curriculum for a new course leading to a joint diploma.

In 1903 the joint Glasgow School of Architecture was established within the Glasgow School of Art in conjunction with the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. For the new diploma design classes were to be taught at the School of Art and the construction classes at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. The first diplomas in architecture were awarded in 1910.

In 1924 the Glasgow School of Art became a university teaching institution when the University of Glasgow set up a BSc in Architecture which was to be taught at the School of Architecture. In 1964 the Royal College of Science and Technology (formerly the Royal Technical College, formerly the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College) merged with the Scottish College of Commerce to form the new University of Strathclyde. Following the merger the Glasgow School of Architecture came to an end, the last students transferring to Strathclyde degrees and graduating in 1968.

In 1970 the Mackintosh School of Architecture was established. It is housed within the Glasgow School of Art and forms that school's Department of Architecture. Its degrees are accredited by the University of Glasgow and its Head is the University's Professor of Architecture.

The Glasgow Government School of Design was originally managed, as were the other Government Schools, by the Board of Trade and a Committee of Management representing local subscribers. Then, in 1852, the Government Schools of Design were taken over by the Department of Practical Art. This Department was renamed the Department of Science and Art in 1853 and was located in South Kensington, London. The Committee of Management was replaced in 1892 by the Board of Governors. In 1898, control of the School was transferred again, this time to the Scotch Education Department (renamed the Scottish Education Department in 1918).

The School became academically independent in 1901 when it was free to develop its own curriculum and its own diplomas, subject to the approval of the Scottish Education Department. The chief executive of the School was the Headmaster, renamed Director in 1901, and a Secretary and Treasurer was responsible for all aspects of the administration of the School. As the School grew, other administrative posts were added.

Archival history

1847 – The 1847 Annual Report mentions a library for the first time. A manuscript catalogue [GSAA/GOV/7/1] of both a lending and reference collection is started.

1849 - The 1849 Annual Report notes that "arrangements have also been made for making the valuable works in the library of reference accessible to designers, for whom a commodious apartment, comfortably furnished, has been appropriated, where they may study four days in the week, from 7 to 9 a.m., and from 6 to 10 p.m. from the books of engravings contained in the library."

1887 - The 1887 Annual Report notes that the Library now holds around 600 volumes. It has been “thoroughly overhauled, arranged and catalogued’ and is open during set hours. The Ladies’ Luncheon Room [in the School’s then premises in the Corporation Buildings] is in use as a reading room.

21 September 1893 – Governors’ Minutes report that artist James J. F. X. King has been appointed Librarian.

1899 – The library is accommodated in the first floor museum in the first phase of Mackintosh’s new building.

1909 – The 1908-1909 Annual Report notes the opening of Mackintosh’s dedicated library: “The Library has, for the first time in the history of the School, a room specially devoted to it. It is well lighted by those long windows that make a striking feature on the west elevation. The arrangements are as complete as possible and quietness and seclusion are secured”.

September 1909 – A Library and Materials Sub-Committee of the Governors is established, with artist John Henderson its first convenor. Charles Rennie Mackintosh sits on the Committee until he moves to England in 1914.

3 December 1909 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that a 4-volume catalogue has been printed and bound in linen [no longer extant].

6 March 1913 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that the lending library is now open free-of-charge to students, with a half crown deposit. A dedicated book acquisitions fund is established.

27 March 1913 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that the Governors are to apply to the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for monies for the library, observing that “there is a noticeable dearth of works on art and cognate subjects in the city libraries and in the library of the University. Books are a vital necessity in an institution of this kind”. The library gains an annual sum of £200 for an initial period of 5 years.

1920 – King retires. James P. Halcrow is given superintendence of the Library, with a female assistant employed.

1930 – The annual library grant from the Carnegie Trust ceases.

5 November 1934 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that a Miss Wyper has effectively acted as Librarian for the past 11 years. She is now succeeded by artist and lecturer, Ian Fleming.

25 January 1935 – Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that an annual student charge has been reintroduced at a florin against matriculation fees.

1937 – The 1936-1937 Annual Report notes that the library is being reclassified to the Dewey Decimal scheme [though this project is subsequently left incomplete and only taken up again in 1951].

15 March 1937 – Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee instruct the Librarian to increase the library’s “usefulness to the community by giving teachers of art and artists, including artists in the commercial sphere, the opportunity of consulting the books in contains, and thus of assisting the School in becoming the centre of artistic endeavour and reference in and around Glasgow”. Novels are collected for the first time.

1938-1948 – The library and reading room of the Glasgow Institute of Architects is accommodated in the School. Many volumes are subsequently incorporated into GSA Library.

3 April 1939 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that 600 books and folios held separately in the School of Architecture have been incorporated into the GSA Library.

1941 – Fleming’s tenure as Librarian ends. A full asset register [GSAA/GOV/7/4] of the Library’s fixtures and fittings is completed.

1944 – Glasgow publisher Adam Luke Gowans is appointed Librarian on the recommendation of Prof. John Walton.

1945 – The 1945-1946 Annual Report records the Library’s extent at 5,500 volumes.

22 January 1945 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that Elizabeth Jamieson’s design for a library bookplate has been selected, after a student competition. She receives £5.5.0 for her design [GSAA/ISE/7/5].

13 June 1945 – Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that funding from the Carnegie Trust has once more been secured. In subsequent years grants are also secured from the Trades House and Merchants House.

2 November 1950 – Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee note Gowans’ resignation as Librarian. The Scottish Education Department now requires the post-holder to have a qualification from the Library Association.

26 January 1951 – Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that Basil Chisholm Skinner has been appointed Librarian.

15 May 1951 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee reports on the transfer of 350 books on general literature unrelated to art to a new Students’ Library at 160 Renfrew Street. The principal library is reclassified according to the Dewey Decimal scheme, completing a project that had started in 1937 but had been left unfinished.

1952 – The 1952-1953 Annual Report notes 10,300 volumes. The Library becomes a member of the Scottish Central Library Co-operative Scheme.

12 March 1952 - Minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee report that the Students’ Library of fiction and general literature holds 548 volumes. In the principal library, a specialised collection of material on Charles Rennie Mackintosh is established.

1954 - The 1954-1955 Annual Report notes the appointment of John C. S. Cottrell as Librarian.

The office of Curator dates back to 1980 when the School received funding from the Manpower Services Commission for a post of Researcher and Curator to catalogue the material held by the School relating to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other former pupils and members of staff of the School. Between 1982 and 1986 the post was funded by the Radcliffe Trust in the form of the Radcliffe Barnes Fellowship.

In 1987 further funding was received from Mr and Mrs Taffner, an American couple. The Curator is responsible for the Mackintosh Collection, the Art, Design and Architecture Collection and the Plaster Cast Collection.

An Archivist was first appointed in 1994. This post is responsible for the School's archive holdings. The first Head of Information Services was appointed in 1997. Prior to this date there was the post of Principal Librarian which covered archives and some aspects of networking. When the School's Principal Librarian left in 1997 the Directorate decided to change this post to Head of Information Services. Information Services is now called Learning Resources and brings together The Library, Archives and Collections and Computer Centre.

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Most records which are over 30 years old are available for public consultation. Records which are less than 30 years old can be accessed with the permission of the head of the relevant department of the School.

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