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Setting our goals

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I blogged in January about what the Libraries Taskforce had achieved during 2017 - we certainly covered a lot of ground during the year! The Taskforce and its members worked on:

  • highlighting the value of libraries and the work they are already undertaking to support delivery of central and local government policy priorities
  • building a stronger evidence base to help support what we are saying about the value of the sector
  • publishing our basic dataset and agreeing the contents list for a new core dataset - this includes the data the sector has decided it needs to manage and improve its services
  • producing guidance documents and toolkits on a variety of topics to help the sector implement the new ways of working we set out in the Ambition document
  • running numerous events and masterclasses to bring people from the sector together to develop further skills and share learning
  • publishing a Public Libraries Skills Strategy

In that blog, I mentioned that we were developing an action plan covering 2018 through to 2020. We’ve often talked about the importance of focussing on outcomes rather than activities, so we’ve recast the plan to focus on high level goals and outcomes.

What are we setting out to achieve?

Our plan sets out 4 main action areas, with goals for 2018, 2019 and 2020 against these; and the outcomes we’re hoping to see achieved by 2021. In summary, for 2018, we’re working on:

Promoting public libraries to the public and to decision-makers

We will continue to:

  • revitalise the public libraries ‘brand’, backed up by common communications assets, for use by all
  • develop and run joined-up programmes of promotional activity
  • seek to get public libraries included in government strategy documents and delivery plans
  • build a greater recognition within councils of the role that public libraries can play in delivering their strategic objectives

Providing library services and potential partners with easy access to evidence and data to inform their decision-making

We will:

  • establish a consistent, shared approach for library services to gather and publish data based on our core dataset
  • help libraries to maintain, develop, and use this data to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of their services
  • steer and encourage potential funders to resource further priority research work
  • make library services aware of these resources and train them to use evidence and data effectively (for advocacy and improvement initiatives)

Providing clearly signposted, step by step guidance and peer support

We will continue to:

  • share learning across the sector. For example, identifying the characteristics of library services ‘bucking the trend’ on performance and usage
  • promote and develop the Benchmarking Framework for libraries, including setting up a support network for those using it
  • promote approaches set out in Taskforce toolkits, providing practical support and encouragement to embed these into how libraries and councils work

Helping the sector (paid staff and volunteers) obtain the insights, skills and support it needs for the future

We will:

  • establish a programme of activities and events to develop the sector’s leadership, skills, and knowledge, linked to the Public Libraries Skills Strategy
  • decide how the Taskforce and its member organisations can best work together to support, add value and share good practice across the sector for the future

We will also continue to identify other emerging challenges which would benefit from central support or where we can use our collective influence and convening power to make things happen.

How will you know if we are achieving these things?

Underpinning all this is our commitment to being open and transparent about our work. We want everyone to see how we’re going about achieving the aspirations set out in the Libraries Deliver: Ambition document, and what we’re accomplishing at each stage. So we’ll continue to provide regular updates via this blog, our meeting minutes, 6 monthly progress reports, and annual reviews of the Ambition document and action plan.

And as I mentioned in my January blog, as DCMS funding for the Taskforce ceases in March 2020, we have already started thinking about how work that the dedicated Taskforce team is currently doing starts to become mainstreamed into other Taskforce member organisations. This will provide opportunities for the Taskforce to become ever more sector-led, with individual Taskforce member organisations stepping up to take more of a lead on certain aspects of its work. We’ll keep you updated about our transition plans over 2018.

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