Highlights from ALMAUK Meeting, 18 November 2010

November’s meeting of ALMAUK was hosted by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, in Cardiff.

Find out how our member organisations are sharing thinking and working together to support sustainable solutions for archives, libraries and museums in a fast-changing fiscal and technological environment.

Main items on the agenda and issues under discussion:

Joint activity

Budgets and organisational change

Information exchange

Joint Activity

Economic Impacts Project

Oliver Allies, lead consultant for ERS presented interim findings on ALMAUK’s economic impacts project.

Over 70 research documents on economic impact methodologies have now been mapped and analysed, with a focus on the principal approaches of multiplier analysis, contingent valuation and return on investment.

The research is thought to represent the most comprehensive examination of economic impact methodologies ever undertaken by or for the UK museums, libraries and archives sector.

Initial findings confirm that organisations across the UK would welcome a robust, cost effective mechanism for calculating their economic impact at a local level, together with clear guidance on what data to collect, when and why.

Further stakeholder consultation will take place in early December. The final report with recommendations for effective data capture and the creation of sector toolkits will be completed by Christmas.

ALMAUK project partners will review the report’s findings and consider next steps by the end of January 2011.

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Leadership Development

Katie Pecakar, Policy Adviser for the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) presented a draft report in support of ALMA-UK’s leadership development project.

The report represents a collective effort by ALMAUK members to create an overview of current and recent leadership development interventions in museums, libraries and archives across the UK.

The study gathers a range of case studies from all four nations, highlighting the challenges of collecting relevant data at a local level, particularly in relation to smaller organisations and to archive services.

Respondents emphasised the difficulties of combating leadership development issues in the current financial climate, with freezes in hiring, job losses and reduced workforce development budgets endemic across the sector.

Despite this, the report concludes that it is precisely because of the huge changes taking place that leadership development is seen to be more important than ever:

‘Leaders need new skills in order to operate in new political and organisational contexts and the radical restructures that many are experiencing could provide an opportunity to rethink the role of leadership and how it is embedded in the organisation in order to improve effectiveness going forward.

Further work will be carried out by the ALMAUK project workgroup to consider how best to disseminate the report’s findings and to facilitate learning about leadership development activity across the nations.

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Performing Rights Societies (PRS) and Collecting Societies

Elaine Fulton, Director of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) updated members on progress with ALMAUK’s collaborative activity on PRS licences.

Following extensive consultation with expert bodies and with legal advice, an Information Guide on Public Performance Licenses has now been issued.

The Guide sets out the circumstances under which public libraries in the UK may need to purchase a licence or licences for music, or film related public performances.

The document has been written jointly by MLA, SLIC, CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, and Libraries NI.

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E-book lending

Members considered the implications for public library services of the announcement by the Publishers Association (PA) at the CILIP Public Libraries Authorities conference, on 21 October, of new restrictions on e-book lending.

The PA’s new terms heighten restrictions on remote access to e-books, barring borrowers from downloading publications outside library premises.

Members agreed the need to find a licensing solution for public libraries that embraces the People’s Network principles, and which addresses both commercial concerns and public service needs.  The provision of clear guidance for libraries was recognised as essential.

Full support was given for a concerted approach across the four nations.

ALMAUK lead contact: Elaine Fulton, Director, SLIC and CILIP in Scotland.

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2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Libraries and volunteering

MLA reported the invaluable role played by public libraries across the UK in supporting volunteer recruitment for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Applications for the 2012 Games Makers volunteering programme opened on 15 September and closed on 27 October.

With support from ALMAUK, MLA and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOGOC) have worked in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), SLIC and the volunteer agencies in each nation to help promote public engagement with the Games Maker programme.

The UK library network played a vital role in opening up the online application process to those individuals without ready computer access.

Information from LOCOG was cascaded to public library services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland via SCL, and to Scottish services via SLIC.

Libraries offered applicants free or low-cost internet access to the Games Maker website, support with internet training where needed, and information about further options for volunteering in their local communities.

MLA aims to work with LOCOG to explore how libraries can continue to play a high profile role in providing 2012 information and promoting engagement with 2012 cultural and volunteering opportunities.

Related link: Libraries’ role in 2012 volunteering (MLA, 29 July 2010)

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Archives and Records Association

Members welcomed René Kinsett, Head of Public Affairs for the Archives and Records Association, the principal professional body for archivists, archive conservators and records managers in the UK and Ireland.

The ARA came into existence on 1 June 2010. The new organisation merges the National Council on Archives and the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government with the Society of Archivists.

Discussion focussed on developing understanding of ARA’s regional and national structure and on identifying shared interests. ARA will map potential opportunities for future joint working with ALMAUK bodies, for consideration at the next meeting in March.

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Budgets and organisational change

Impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review

ALMAUK members shared information about the impact of budget cuts and organisational change, both known and anticipated, in each of the four nations.

The group discussed the probable transition of MLA’s functions to Arts Council England, with particular reference to MLA’s UK-wide responsibilities for the Museum Accreditation Scheme and for statutory cultural property functions, including Export Control and the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

For further information on budgets and the impact of cuts, see the following related news reports:

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Launch of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Choices for Change toolkit

Alison Turnbull, Head of Standards and Research for MGS, presented Choices for Change, a new toolkit which encourages local authorities to explore alternative options of service delivery and business models.

The toolkit has been designed to help local authorities make decisions about how they deliver locally in a ‘cuts climate’.

Available from www.choicesforchange.info

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Future Libraries Programme

Members discussed the cross-nation relevance of this ambitious change programme for English libraries, which aims to take a strategic approach to exploring radical efficiency options.

The programme represents a partnership initiative between national and local government, with local authorities positioned firmly in the driving seat.

MLA and the Local Government Association are working together to support ten pioneering projects, by helping councils to broker partnerships, establish new delivery mechanisms and to build economies of scale and sustainable critical mass.

Learning from the projects will be considered at the next ALMAUK meeting, in the context of a wider debate and knowledge sharing on new models of service delivery.

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Information exchange

Launch of the Scottish Library and Information Council’s policy briefing Libraries connecting people and communities

Makes the case for all libraries from the smallest community library to those in major universities and the National Library of Scotland.

The briefing calls on policymakers to recognise the value of library and information services to Scotland’s economic and skills development, education, cultural and literary heritage in manifestos.

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Launch of National Youth Information Framework

A quality improvement framework aimed at enhancing young people’s access to high quality, up-to-date information on issues of particular interest to them.

Developed by Young Scot in partnership with SLIC and the Scottish Government. The tool is targeted at all organisations and professionals who are involved in developing and providing information for and with young people.

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Launch of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Interns Programme

A project under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future Programme. MGS’s year-long programme will begin in September 2011 and aims to address issues of workforce entry and diversity, current skills gaps and shortages, and knowledge transfer.

ALMAUK contact: Jane Robinson, Head of Museum Development, MGS

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Publication of Libraries NI: a year of change (2009/10)

Overview of the key achievements of Libraries NI during its first year of operation. Responsibility for public library services transferred from the five Education and Library Boards to Libraries NI, the new Northern Ireland Library Authority, on 1 April 2009.

Copies available from press@libariesni.org.uk

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Publication of Issue 10 of CyMAL magazine (Winter 2010)

News and features from the museum, archive and library sector in Wales. Includes information on the launch of Culturenet Cymru’s Digitisation Toolkit, which aims to promote best practice in creating high quality digital content for the heritage sector.

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Public Record Office of Northern Ireland relocation update

PRONI’s current site at Balmoral Avenue closed to the public on 6 September 2010, to allow the relocation of collections and staff to new, purpose-built premises in the city’s Titanic Quarter.

The new PRONI building will open to the public on 31 March 2011.

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Next meeting

The next full meeting of ALMAUK members will be hosted by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council in London, on Thursday 10 March 2011.

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