The Library's future is at risk
News Update - 4 February 2018
Surrey County Council's Communities Select Committee (CSC) will meet at 10am on Thursday 8 February 2018 in the County Hall in Kingston to decide the future of the Surrey Performing Arts Library. This will be a crucial meeting for the future of SPAL and, since the meeting is open to the public, if you can attend the meeting to show how much the survival of SPAL means to you, please do so. Please also let others who may be interested know about it. Your attendance will hopefully help us to persuade the councillors to take what we think is the right decision for the future of this resource which is so important to those interested in, or taking part in, the performing arts (including drama groups, orchestras, choirs, play-reading groups, teachers, students and your professional musicians, singers and actors in Surrey and beyond.
The CSC Agenda and published report can be found here:
The CSC will make its recommendations which will then be decided on by the full Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 27 March 2018, which we would also encourage you to attend if you possibly can. Papers for that will be published on the Surrey County Council website one week before (so on or about 20 March).
Since November, we at FOSPAL together with Making Music (the former National Federation of Music Societies) and IAML (the International Association of Music Librarians - UK & Ireland) have been working with Surrey County Council (SCC) officers on investigating the feasibility of an 'Option 2', i.e. of SPAL being taken over by a charitable organisation and run independently of SCC.
Our conclusions from these meetings have been that:
- SCC's Option 1 (retaining SPAL within SCC but splitting music and drama and dispersing single items; no dedicated or specialist staff; no dedicated budget for new acquisitions or replacement stock), especially given continued budget pressures on SCC (as on all councils), will mean (as we had originally thought) a slow death for SPAL as stock becomes degraded and no specialist staff are on hand to give advice or maintain the integrity of the collection;
- the discussions with the one potential external provider that SCC are unlikely to lead to a successful outcome; and
- forming a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and starting to plan for a user-led New SPAL independent of Surrey County Council would be the only future-proof and sustainable solution we could envisage (and most of you who attended the public meeting we convened in Leatherhead on 13 January seemed to be in agreement with us)
The CIO (called NewSPAL) is now set up with six trustees, including Mark Welling (Chair of FOSPAL), Barbara Eifler (Chief Executive of Making Music), Anna Wright (President of IAML) and three user group representatives. We are shortly to add another trustee with drama background.
The paper which we delivered to Surrey County Council officers for inclusion with the other papers for the CSC meeting can be found in Annex 4 to the CSC report and on the FOSPAL website. Please note when you read the full set of papers on the SCC website that we had to submit our paper without having sight of the officers' paper or any of their other materials, so they had an opportunity to critique our option and submit additional information whereas we were not able to do that in relation to the rest of their report.
Mark Welling, Barbara Eifler and Anna Wright will be appearing as witnesses to the CSC, so will seek to put across our views and the basis for them in person.
We would welcome your views on the proposed Options and, in particular on the view that Mark, Barbara and Anna will be putting forward to the CSC that our Option 2, namely SPAL being run by a user-led charity independent of SCC, is, of the available options, the best way forward and the solution favoured by most users and user groups in Surrey (and beyond).
This news update is being sent to FOSPAL members and to Making Music members. Please disseminate it more widely to those with an interest in the future of this vital service.
Making Music, FOSPAL & Inter. Assn. of Music Libraries report to Surrey County Council.
You can find the latest FOSPAL newsletter here
Surrey Performing Arts Library