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#LibraryAmbition: making it happen

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We recently published a post about the emerging views from the consultation we’re doing on our Ambition document. That post looked at the context, vision and purposes sections. This blog follows up by looking at what people are saying about the sections on how we can make the Ambition happen.

Governance and Delivery

In the draft document, we set out some design principles for library services, a model for service delivery and ways we could improve future service planning.

In the feedback so far, we’ve been asked to clarify / tweak some of the design principle definitions. For example, moving from being ‘responsive to local needs’ (which sounds a bit reactive) to proactively co-creating and designing services with local communities.

People are generally supportive of the model for service delivery we proposed, although the point was made that whilst working in consortia was beneficial, it could be hard to do! We’ve been asked to identify ways that barriers can be overcome and joint working can be incentivised, building on lessons learnt from existing consortia working within library services as well as shared service models and combined authorities now forming to address agendas like economic growth and transport infrastructure.

People have been supportive of the strategic, evidence-based, planning approach we outlined and very keen to have guidance on how best to do it, building on good practice. Many have asked for this to be produced urgently as, in many areas, the process of looking at options for future library service provision is already underway.

People are strongly behind the creation of a public library skills strategy. They want it to help develop career paths for existing staff, as well as for supporting the development of attractive propositions to persuade talented people to come and work in libraries in the future. They also want the strategy to cover volunteers, identifying the skills, learning and development they need to operate effectively. They are also flagging that any training should be continually refreshed, because the skills needed in a modern library service are continually evolving and people need to ensure they stay up-to-date.

Ways of Working

We asked whether people would find an Expectation Set (describing what an excellent library service should look like) and/or a voluntary accreditation scheme useful. People like the idea of having these benchmarks to encourage improvement, but feel more thought has to be given on ways to incentivise organisations to invest time and effort into undertaking the work needed to benefit from them. For example, could accreditation serve as a way to unlock availability of certain funding?

Whilst there is support for developing a robust basic data set, open and available for everyone to use, automated and ‘real-time’ as far as possible, people are also concerned to identify outcomes measures which are likely to have more qualitative aspects.

A (well-supported) suggestion was made that we should look to encourage local authorities and other public sector organisations to adopt a ‘libraries first’ approach to providing face to face services within communities. People are also asking us to highlight more strongly the need for co-location opportunities to be planned to achieve user benefits through service integration, as well as cost-savings. They are interested in sharing learning on how to design joint spaces so they work for all users.

Many comments support sharing good practice on maximising funding opportunities. People believe that new approaches to commissioning / procurement are good, although they feel there are still internal local authority barriers which are holding them back from making the most of the opportunities presented.

Marketing and communications

All the workshops think making a strong case for what libraries offer and combating unhelpful stereotypes through a national campaign is a very high priority.

They’d like a coordinated approach to creating a collection of communications ‘assets’ (materials, images, case studies, fact sheets, etc) which all libraries could use and tailor to local requirements. They want to develop advocacy skills at a local level too, and build staff confidence in different engagement techniques, including more use of social media.

Next steps

Don’t forget that the consultation closes on 3 June. You still have time to share your views via the online questionnaire.

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