[Editors note: This guest post was written by Jill Griffin following the Libraries Deliver: Ambition workshop in Solihull.]
For the last 10 years, I have worked for Solihull Libraries in a variety of roles, the most recent being Area Coordinator for The Core Library and Housebound Service. I was seconded to the Commissioning Team in 2014 for 18 months commissioning Adult Social Care services and co-producing with people who use services and their carers to introduce transformational changes, better realise our community assets and ensure the voice of people has a greater influence on care and support in Solihull. I returned to Libraries in April 2016 and I am currently working part time in both Commissioning and Libraries - what a combination!
Reflections on the workshop
I found the Libraries Taskforce Workshop inspiring. It gave myself and colleagues the opportunity to feel part of the way forward and to feed into the future of libraries. For me, the idea of having a national team who can advertise and market libraries would ensure a more cohesive approach and enable key messages and ambitions to be promoted widely.
Having worked in commissioning, I realise the importance of ensuring that performance measures are outcome focused and case studies are used to share people's stories and our role within the community. I think we ought to explore further co-production working, and using libraries should be built into more commissioning contracts (which could be across authorities). This will ensure greater partnership working in our venues, reduce costs overall and provide a single point of contact for our people.
Further ideas to consider
To further promote libraries nationally and regionally, I think we should consider having awards events to recognise and celebrate success, development, best practice and innovation (like the Solihull Better Lives Awards). I think this would be more valuable than introducing an Accreditation Scheme.
For staff, we need more training and product awareness via publications like the “Bookseller”. Perhaps this sort of material should be added to that which is already publicly available via services like Zinio.
Finally, we could use our technical experts within libraries differently, recruiting staff with sales/customer service skills on the front line backed-up by experts as needed. Staff performance objectives and recruitment should be linked to skills needs to meet our future library ambitions.
Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce