FORMER Scottish Arts Council chairman James Boyle is to lead a new-look board of the National Library of Scotland (NLS) following the introduction of controversial legislation.
The ex-BBC Radio Four controller, who has held a string of senior positions in arts organisations, will be at the helm during a shake-up of the organisation’s governing body.
The Edinburgh-based library’s collections include everything from rare historical documents and archives of work to online journals and databases. It holds about 15 million printed items, 100,000 manuscripts, two million maps and 25,000 news-paper and magazine titles.
However, the Scottish Government wants to see much greater public access to the library’s collections, slim down its management structure, work more with other cultural organisations and ensure more of the collection is available online.
The Scottish Government said Mr Boyle – who replaces Michael Anderson as chairman after his 12-years in the post – would now be tasked with “taking forward” changes approved by parliament in May of this year.
A ministerial “power of direction” was underlined with the new legislation, despite the opposition of some MSPs concerned that there will now be too much interference in the body.
However, the Scottish Government insists a move to ensure that it makes all future appointments to the NLS board – which will be reduced from 32 to no more than 13 members – will merely bring it into line with other major cultural collections, such as the National Museums and National Galleries bodies.
The appointment of Mr Boyle, who was in charge of the Holyrood commission which led to the formation of quango Creative Scotland, was made by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop ahead of the new legislation taking effect in the spring.