Friday, 13 June 2008

Roy Clare (MLA): Public Libraries - Towards 2020

Be proactive, not reactive
Consumers/customers have views
How confident are we that the data we have on/from our customers is good enough to run a service?
Insist on evidence, then *use* it
Consultation *and* engagement with customers
Success is not about book issues - there are other things that should be celebrated
Focus on the programmes we know work
e.g. people who borrow books about health feel better afterwards
MLA in its new guise is very data-focussed. Roy needs our help to make it work
People like stories *as well as* data - helps with advocacy
Regeneration in the cultural sector comes too often after "core" local government service areas
Living Places - about bringing community spirit and "life" to developments which would otherwise only receive new infrastructure
Blackpool - new library planned(?) in Sainsbury's - why not in nearby FE college?
Local Authority Chief Executives have two concerns - local economy and social divide. We have tools to address both
Roy knows we *need* to close some public libraries and that we can improve services by doing so. MLA can be an independent third party in these discussions and demonstrate evidence in support
Dudley - closing five libraries but increasing opening hours by 75 hour *net* across the authority
Libraries should be offering seven-day service and 24hrs where appropriate
We should not be overly precious out the qualifications needed to run a library service
53% of the adult population has a library card. What about the other 47%? We need to get to understand them
JANET into public libraries! Depends on content - some JISC content not appropriate - and OfCom

I know what you're thinking: it looks like I took a lot of notes. I needed to - Roy Clare has a lot to say, and invites a lot of participation. The stuff about closing libraries to improve service seems counterintuitive if it's approached naively, but the point is that redistribution of resources - your book fund, staff time, maintenance budget and what have you - can be more effective than maintaining a struggling, underused library indefinitely because it's always been there. Interesting stuff.