At the end of November we held our 48th AGM, preceded by a series of short talks detailing work done around the world during lockdowns. It was great to see so many of you there. For those who weren’t able to make it, I thought it would be helpful to do a brief summary of what was discussed.

If you missed any of the talks, then they were recorded and you can access them by first logging into this website, and then visiting the AGM page at https://www.geocurator.org/agm2021

As members should hopefully be aware, we are in the process of converting our charity into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), following a vote at last year’s AGM. Unfortunately, even though our application was submitted in the summer, the Charity Commission have yet to process it due to a backlog of applications during the pandemic, which means that we are somewhat in limbo. While the conversion in its basic form is straightforward, there are several things that will happen as corollaries. We have a new vision and mission, which was actually developed in 2019 (https://www.geocurator.org/about-gcg), and a slightly tweaked committee structure which fits more effectively into our new CIO constitution. As well as this, the instigation of the CIO means that we will need a new bank account, and we have been looking at ways to streamline and develop our finances. The plan was to bring all this together and consolidate it at the 2021 AGM, but unfortunately this wasn’t possible. Therefore, the new posts introduced and filled at the AGM (Vice Chair and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator) must be regarded as co-opted posts under the existing charity constitution (and the same would be the case for the Communications Coordinator, but this post is currently vacant). As soon as we have our new CIO charity number, all the pieces will fall into place and we can proceed full steam ahead. While the delay is unfortunate, it is out of our hands and I hope members will agree that we should not let it hinder our progress unduly, and join me in keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Alongside these developments, we have been looking at our membership fees. It has been clear for some time that the most costly GCG deliverable is printed versions of the journal. Printing costs, and especially postage costs, have continued to rise over the last few years, to the point where members receiving only the electronic version of the journal are subsidising members with printed copies to the tune of nearly £10 each. In a nutshell, we propose that the default membership should be £20 for all, with electronic publications only. Those who would like to continue to receive printed journals would pay a supplement depending on geographical location, as postage costs differ depending on global zone. We would also like to publish the journal only once a year, as this significantly reduces stress on the production team and authors, and supports the increasing quality of the publication. For more information, see the presentation and notes at https://www.geocurator.org/membership/547-notice-of-increase-of-membership-fees . If you have any comments on these proposals, please let us know by the end of February 2022. We would like to bring in this new structure as and when we set up our new CIO bank account, perhaps in the latter half of 2022.

The UK DiSSCo (Distributed System of Scientific Collections) natural sciences digitisation scoping project has kicked off in earnest, after several years of discussion. The window for expressions of interest was small, but there may still be time to include more collections. We encourage as many geological collections as possible to get involved, so they have good representation on the national stage and in database designs. See this Blog for more details and don’t delay if you would like to get your collection involved!

For more information on all of the above, please read our Annual Report for 2021 (link) and the minutes (link)

I hope you are all keeping well, and are able to have a restful Christmas and New Year, and as ever, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the committee (https://www.geocurator.org/committee) if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

Dr Sarah King, 6th December 2021

GCG is seeking new Trustees!

Are you passionate about geological collections, and would like to work towards improving them?

The Geological Curators Group (GCG) was established in the UK in 1974 as a voice and network for everyone who works with geological collections. It is a registered charity (no 296050) in England and Wales, currently in the process of converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). It is run by its members, for its members, on a voluntary basis. We welcome everyone, not just curators: our members are also museum and heritage volunteers, collectors, conservators, students, academics, educators, and everyone in between.

We recently updated our vision and mission, and you can find these on our website at https://www.geocurator.org/about-gcg.

We are seeking four new Trustees this year:

We will also be instigating a new Vice Chair role. The postholder will be selected from serving committee, and subject to a members’ vote at the AGM, as the Chair post is now. This post will help build strong leadership and continuity for GCG into the future.

The most important things for potential Trustees to have are a passion for geological collections, and time to dedicate to the organisation, but have a look at each role for more details. We are flexible and friendly, and we welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds.

All Trustee positions, subject to application and ratification at an AGM, are for three years, with a possible extension of a second term. They are voluntary posts, but expenses are covered when approved in advance. Trustees must be current members of GCG, and eligible to serve as a charity Trustee under the Charity Commission guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3. The committee meets three times a year, plus the AGM, and there is various work to be completed throughout the year. The AGM this year is on 30th November 2021, and it is hoped that the CIO will be up and running in parallel with the existing charity at that point. Please do get in touch if there are any queries on this.  

If you are interested in a role, please contact us to discuss, but please make sure your formal expression of interest reaches us as soon as possible - definitely by 5th November 2021.

GCG are deeply saddened to bring you news that one of our longest serving members and great friends, Stuart Baldwin passed away on 20th September, aged 91. Stuart was well known to many as the extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and cheery bookseller based in Essex, and seen at many festivals and conferences.

Stuart was born in Essex in 1930 and educated in Witney after being evacuated to Oxfordshire during the war. He had qualified as an electrical engineer as well as a pharmacist, and spent seven years as a medical representative in London. Following this he spent 15 years marketing computers for IBM before being moving into the field of lecturing about small business start-ups. In his spare time he was also a collector of both fossils and books, and in 1959, he set up successful businesses of his own making wonderful educational fossil replicas (official supplier to the Open University) and dealing in second-hand books, as well as running a small museum (with over 100,000 specimens) of Palaeontology and Zoology at Fossil Hall, in Witham, Essex. He wrote several books of his own, including ‘Dinosaur Stamps of the World’ and ‘A Beginners Guide to Second-hand Book-dealing’. He held a Guinness World Record, as the ‘world’s slowest student’ – taking 28 years to complete his science degree with the Open University, as he was kept so busy with his career, his small businesses and his family. He ‘retired’ in 1995, selling his replica fossil manufacturing business and museum to the Open University, but retained his second-hand books which he continued to sell for many years, and a visit to his collection never failed to unearth a few literary gems of interest. He started winding down his book-selling activities still further in 2001 by initially relieving himself of large numbers of reprints, nicely pre-empting the move into mass-digitization of journal back-issues – a wise move on his part. He closed his bookshop at this point, but continued buying and selling from his home. Stuart even took up a new hobby of bee-keeping in his later years in order to keep active. Stuart was always a great supporter of GCG and its work, becoming one of our earliest members in 1974, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. We send our condolences to his family.

We were very pleased to hear that The Etches Collection has today been officially awarded Designated Status by Arts Council England - this further cements the reputation of the collection as being nationally and internationally significant. 

You can read more in their press release: https://www.theetchescollection.org/news/2021/1/29/etches-collection-awarded-designated-status-by-arts-council-england 

It was great to see so many members and supporters of GCG at our AGM last Monday, 30th November. Due to the fact that the UK was under a national lockdown, we held this virtually, and, far from being a hindrance, it actually allowed many more people from farther afield to attend the meeting, in addition to our "regulars". Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend and contribute. We will be discussing as a committee if we can incorporate the virtual format into our real world meetings as we move forward.

We started the meeting with two interesting and informative talks, from Derek Leung (Edinburgh University) and Liz Hide (Sedgwick Museum, University of Cambridge). If you were not able to catch the talks live, they were recorded and you can access the recordings (you will need to be logged in as a GCG member) from the AGM pages on the website at www.geocurator.org/agm2020 

We were then able to move to our 47th AGM - again if you missed any of this you can catch up with all the papers from the meeting using the link above. There have only been a few minor changes to the committee structure. The most important change discussed was the conversion of GCG to a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation), and we're pleased to say that the members' vote on this passed with a large majority. This is a much more modern charity structure than the one used back in 1986 when GCG first registered as a charity. For instance: