The relationship between booksellers and libraries is ‘set to change’ on a national scale with the intensifying of a partnership between the Booksellers Association and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL).
In a blog for The Bookseller, Ayub Khan MBE, an SCL executive and face to face services manager at Warwickshire County Council, said that bookshops and libraries were set to join forces on a larger, national scale to combat the economic ‘adversity’ faced by both enterprises which has seen many bookshops and libraries close over the last few years.
Khan has advocated that bookshops and libraries should ‘target customers together’, join forces in campaigns and events and discuss and debate topics such as the "thorny issue of e-lending".
He said bookshops and libraries should share things like event calendars "well ahead" to promote participation in events and he encouraged Booksellers Association members to take up and support SCL’s Universal Reading Offer and get involved in National Library Day.
In the spirit of collaboration, Warwickshire libraries has already trialled initiatives like adding a Find Your Local Bookshop button onto their websites, Khan added.
“Bookshops and libraries may seem, to some, unlikely allies,” Khan said. “One is in the business of selling books while the other lends them out for free. But we know they can and do work together successfully, but by local arrangement rather than national policy. That is set to change.
“The Booksellers’ Association and the Society of Chief Librarians have struck up a partnership which both acknowledges what they have in common, and seeks opportunities for working together - to the benefit of both.”
Khan added: “It’s early days but there’s a lot more potential.”
In 2014 representatives from the BA and SCL attended each other’s executive meetings and the SCL made a presentation to the BA’s annual conference.
In February 2015 a working group involving the BA’s Tim Godfray and Alan Staton, the SCL’s Janene Cox and Kahn and booksellers Jane Streeter from the Bookcase in Nottingham and Nic Bottomley from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, explored joint initiatives to develop ‘reading communities’ together.
“Since the group formed, the willingness to work together on a national scale has moved forward, with the SCL and BA co-operating on projects such as World Book Day, Shakespeare Week, and looking at how bookshops could support the Books on Prescription scheme - which provides an approved list of self-help titles for teenagers and adults with mental health issues,” Kahn said.
The BA and SCL particularly want bookshops and libraries to work together on World Book Day and Shakespeare Week.
Tim Godfray, c.e.o of the Booksellers Association, added: “The Booksellers Association is passionately in favour of libraries, and we are delighted to be partnering with the Society of Chief Librarians. We are looking particularly at how bookshops and libraries can work together to grow audiences in 2016 for World Book Day and Shakespeare Week. There are so many good things happening between individual booksellers and libraries. We want to build on this, to mutual benefit.”