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Keeping us grounded in reality......

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We want to make sure that the Libraries Taskforce take every opportunity to include views from people with a wide range of experience. We were, therefore, very pleased when members of staff from the public library sector were prepared to help.

To support the Society of Chief Librarians' (SCL's) commitment to leadership development, and in line with the recommendations of the Independent Library Report for England, the Taskforce offered two senior library managers a secondment opportunity, funded by Arts Council England, to work in the Taskforce team.

Sharon Kirkpatrick and Sue Wills took up the challenge of becoming our first secondees, both from the South West of England. This was purely co-incidental - and we hope there will be others. Keep an eye on this blog for news of future opportunities.

Sharon and Sue with the Webb Ellis trophy - and the Read South West rugby booklet
Sharon and Sue with the Webb Ellis trophy - and the South West reading passport:  Read XV

Lets hear from Sue first:

"I'm Sue Wills, the library service manager for Poole libraries.

I was excited by the opportunity to gain new skills, broaden my experience and raise my awareness of the national policy landscape affecting libraries so I applied and was lucky enough to be successful. I started work with the team, on a secondment for 3 days a week, at the beginning of September.

Currently I am working on preparing information, on behalf of the Taskforce, for other government departments to highlight the range of services which libraries offer and can contribute to their agendas. This means I am also able to help ensure that any developments emerging from the Taskforce are operationally deliverable within a local authority context.

The last month has been an exciting roller coaster ride for me working with the new team and getting to grips with the work - as well as going back to work in Poole and understanding how so much of the work we are doing locally fits into that bigger national picture.

Find me on LinkedIn and share my journey for the next 6 months."

And now Sharon:

"By way of introduction, I am Sharon Kirkpatrick a senior manager from Dorset Library Service and currently working 3 days a week for the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce. I am enjoying the opportunity of working with the innovative and enthusiastic Taskforce team here at DCMS and getting a real insight into the methods of operation and the decision making processes of central government. Naturally, the work here benefits greatly from the informed views of  Taskforce members and colleagues from local government.

One of the strands of the Libraries Taskforce work is to ensure that senior decision makers in local and central government understand the value contributed by public libraries in England.

To support this work I am currently engaged in developing a package of guidance for local authority chief executives and councillors/portfolio holders. This guidance will seek to demonstrate how libraries as a key community hub are able to deliver a range of policy agendas in a cohesive way to local communities. Thank you to all of you for sending in case studies to illustrate good and enhanced practice. Further work will include guidance for heads of service on governance and alternative delivery models, and research into community-managed libraries.

No secondment can divorce the work based learning from the environment and the following is an example. Coming back from a meeting the other day, I passed through Horse Guards Parade and took this snapshot of the guards on parade, a powerful show of team strength and harmonious working.

Changing the Guard
Changing the Guard

The studied mood was in sharp contrast to an earlier scene:  a bat mobile immobilised on a transporter on a busy London street.

Batmobile on a transporter
Batmobile on a transporter

These photographs illustrate a rich culture and creativity, which is important for me working in an era of changing dynamics."

Our secondees will be writing more about what they get up to over the coming months. Sign up for alerts to be notified of new posts.


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