15 November 2013, The Tablet

Surprise as Scots archive reopens

Researchers and members of the public are being invited back to the Scottish Catholic Archives following a surprising U-turn over the closure of their home at Columba House in Edinburgh.

In April, a press release from the Scottish Catholic Media Office stated that Columba House was closing until further notice after the discovery of mould on items in the collection, leading the Archbishop Emeritus of Glasgow, Mario Conti, to say the building “was not fit for purpose”.

There has been a long- running dispute over the location of the archives with historians opposing the transfer of pre-1878 material to the University of Aberdeen earlier this year. The vast majority of post-1878 papers remains in Columba House, but in the April statement Archbishop Conti said a new location for the material was needed urgently.

On Tuesday, however, the Columba House website announced that the archives were now open to view on an appointment basis.

Donna Maguire, assistant archivist at Columba House, said that the problems with the building remained – half of it is still shut – but staff were trying to accommodate those who wanted to see items.

Following the announcement that Columba House would close, academics had been concerned about a lack of communication over the fate of the post-1878 material.

The archive collections are the responsibility of the Trustees of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Collections Museum (commonly called the Blairs Museum) whose chairman is Archbishop Conti.

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