SCL discusses 'purpose and proposed way forward'

The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) is to review its purpose and how it works, as it seeks to be more open with library staff and campaigners.

It has released the minutes of its executive committee meeting online, revealing a plan to identify SCL’s “core purpose and proposed way forward”.

At the meeting on 23rd January, the group considered: “Who do SCL wish to influence? Does SCL have a delivery role? Will SCL have an active participative role?” They also asked: “What is the role of SCL in the future given the reduction in the support that can be expected from Arts Council England (ACE)?” They resolved to form a work plan and discuss the issue further at future meetings.

Nicky Morgan, libraries director at ACE, was also present at the meeting to discuss the findings of its forthcoming research programme, Envisioning the Library of the Future.
The emerging findings have focused on five themes: the importance of physical and virtual library space; the value of libraries to children; libraries as a trusted gateway to knowledge free from commercial interest; the role libraries play in social opportunity and equality; and the tensions between retaining traditional services while also being early adopters of new technology.

From this, ACE has identified four areas to prioritise: the library space; digital technologies; sustainable business models; and leadership and skills. ACE will hold a series of roundtable events this month to test their findings further, with a full report published in March.

Morgan also explained some of the changes in ACE. The new national lead for libraries, who has yet to be appointed, will split their time between equally between libraries and their regional responsibilities. They will be supported by five library relationship managers.

Library campaigner Desmond Clarke said: “It’s good that SCL are making these available, and promising to look at their purpose and how they fit in. They have to ask what their role is, which is something they’ve been unable to answer.”