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Taskforce meet in Newcastle

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The Libraries Taskforce held its fifth meeting on 19 November and our hosts were Newcastle libraries. We met on a sunny day which showed the central library off to perfection, as it is a new building with walls of glass which let light flood into the central atrium and open plan floors.

Central atrium, Newcastle City library
Central atrium, Newcastle City library. Photo credit: Julia Chandler/Libraries Taskforce

Representatives of the library gave us a whistle stop tour, with a pause for questions in the popular Business and IP centre - run in partnership with the British Library. We also had the opportunity to meet representatives from different parts of the library services team, including their digital engagement lead and their publishing arm, and people from the different organisations across the city who have gone into partnership with various libraries to run community service points.

Summary of key messages from the meeting

The Taskforce thanked Newcastle City Council for the tour. We had been particularly impressed with the Business & IP Centre and results to date.

We welcomed updates on the following from members:

  • Update on meetings with Ministers
  • Health roundtable hosted by Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), The Reading Agency and the Wellcome Trust
  • Update on the Unifying Digital Presence by SCL
  • Presentation on the Universal Offers by SCL and The Reading Agency
  • Roundtable on Workforce Development with CILIP, SCL and other partners. Specific consideration on entry-level development schemes particularly increasing number of library apprentices. Taskforce agreed to discuss this at a future meeting
  • Workshop with library campaigners and interested parties
  • E-Lending and proposed next steps to extend in a voluntary and phased process
  • Public Library Data - plans to exploit existing data and to achieve improvements for the future

We noted the following:

  • successful launch of the Universal Learning Offer by SCL on 5 November
  • update on the Taskforce’s six month progress report and their recommendation for an Ambition for Public Libraries in England: Making it Happen document
  • Arts Council England (ACE) had announced local authorities allocations for the WiFi funding project and thanked Brian Ashley and his team at ACE for their hard work in managing the process so smoothly

We discussed and supported the first draft of the guidance / good practice toolkit.

We agreed to work collectively on co-ordinated communication plans including for National Libraries Day on 6 February 2016 and in finalising the positive narrative for libraries.

We confirmed discussions will be on the agenda at the next Taskforce meeting on the implications of Spending Round outcomes.

Full minutes are available here.

We took the opportunity of being in the northeast to visit several libraries. Our next post will describe what we saw, and report on the opening of the new Stafford library.

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