Saturday 19 October 2013

A mis-named Committee? 

Pubs Committee meeting, 19/10/2013
Image: L. Marsh
BSBI's Publications Committee (aka "Pubs") met in London on Thursday for its twice-yearly overview of all our publications: not just BSBI News and New Journal of Botany, but also handbooks, leaflets and electronic publications. 

Our journals are members-only, but we are working to digitise back copies of BSBI News so everybody can see them on the website. Issues 1-121 (September 2012) are now available here and you can see what else is in the Publications archive here

Viola lactea Pale Dog-violet
Image: L. Marsh
Much of the meeting was given over to reviewing progress towards new BSBI Handbooks. Regular readers will know about Chris Metherall's visits to herbaria up and down the country, to look at specimens for his handbook on Euphrasia (Eyebrights), and he's not the only one. New handbooks on Alchemilla, Viola, Oenothera and Gentianaceae, and new editions of handbooks on Willows & Poplars, and Docks & Knotweeds, are all at various stages in the pipeline, with authors, editors and illustrators beavering away. 

We also looked at progress towards a major new BSBI book - but we're not quite ready to reveal details yet, so watch this space.

Mike Porter
Image: L. Marsh
Pubs member Mike Porter is writing the Viola handbook (when he's not working on Plant Records for NJB) - he reported difficulties in finding hybrids of Viola lactea x canina. We saw V. lactea (above left) in Beaumaris this summer, but no hybrid. Please let us know if you can help Mike out here - do you know where can he see this hybrid? 

The full list of BSBI handbooks is available here on our Publications page, which also has a link to Summerfield Books, the independent book-sellers who handle our publications and offer discounts to BSBI members on selected items. Summerfield's catalogue of natural history books is mouth-watering and they are very helpful, so do email them if you are trying to track down a particular title. Paul O'Hara of Summerfield sits on Pubs, so we also heard their latest sales report and were reminded how important it is to keep supporting independent, specialist book-sellers. 

Jane, John Poland (Chair of Pubs) and Ian Denholm
Image: L. Marsh
Summerfield will be at the AEM next month, so you can browse a selection of their stock, try out some of the many handlenses they sell and get advice from real human beings who know their stuff. Acanthophyllum Books will also be at the AEM with a selection of second-hand and antiquarian botany books, so at 5pm on November 23rd, I bet we'll all be staggering out of the Natural History Museum clutching armfuls of books we Simply Had to Have. 

President Ian Denholm and BSBI's new Head of Ops, Jane Houldsworth, also joined us at Pubs, so Jane could find out at first hand what the Committee does and how. Are we spending our small budget as effectively as possible? How do we interact with the other Committees?

Arthur Chater (left) and Alex Lockton
Image: L. Marsh
Jane is attending all BSBI Committee meetings this year on a fact-finding mission, and her observations will feed into a new strategic plan for BSBI. 

This will help us continue to spend our members' hard-earned subscriptions as carefully and effectively as possible in pursuit of the society's aims, which are to promote and support the study, understanding and enjoyment of the wild plants of Britain and Ireland. 

Arthur, Ian and Philip in the pub after Pubs.
Image: L. Marsh
BSBI's webmaster Alex Lockton came by to talk about development proposals for the website and some helpful tweaks he's made, like the site Index and the search box on the homepage. And I gave a short report on NJB, including the successful Journal of the Month promotion.

And the misnomer? Well, we all went to the pub afterwards - Philip Oswald and I had previously agreed that we simply must raise a glass in memory of Peter Sell. But although Pubs can let its hair down, it doesn't do the Full Rapunzel - so no dancing on tables, no indiscretions for me to photograph and post here, and no riotous pub-crawl. I travelled all the way to London for Pubs and we only visited one.

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