[Editors note: This post is the second in the short series of reflections from colleagues who worked with the Taskforce on secondment. It was written by Sue Wills, Poole Libraries Service Manager]
It is only now I have finished my secondment with the Libraries Taskforce and taken time to reflect on that experience that I realise just what we achieved over the last few months and how lucky I was to be a member of that high performance team who welcomed me so warmly from day one.
I started working for the Taskforce in September 2015 and spent 6 months with them, working 3 days a week. My last day at the end of March also ended on a high because we went along to the launch of ‘Cityread London’ and listened to Gillian Slovo talk about her book ‘Ten Days’. A book about what happens when politics, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide, and that Londoners were encouraged to read together in April.
My six months just sped past because I was so busy and there was so much to do in such a tight time scale. But I would not have had it any other way. It was such an exhilarating period.
There were four highlights for me:
- I drafted ministerial briefing papers, one for each department that listed each department’s priorities, captured what libraries are doing currently to support those agendas and what more they could do if resources were available. In central government, less is more, so I learnt how to write in a more succinct, concise way and those briefings were never longer than 2 sides of A4!
- I developed a proposal for universal library membership for children
- I designed a Commuter Hub pilot from scratch with the Ministry of Justice that will now be rolled out to other areas
- I contributed to the production of Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 - 2021
Finally I felt decision makers were taking on board just what libraries do and what they were capable of delivering in the future, but we still have a way to go.
I wanted the secondment to improve my knowledge and understanding of central government and how departments work. I wanted to gain new skills, broaden my experience and work with my peers to showcase best practice, and I wanted to work with a range of partners to design new and innovative projects to support future developments in libraries - and that is exactly what happened. Thank you to everyone who played a part in that.
Finally, a word about Ambition. We are at a critical point in the evolution of public libraries and Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021 showcases the transformative nature of libraries now and in the future. It sets out a vision of the value and impact of public libraries – a national network that delivers transformation and progress for people, communities and the nation. I urge you to read it, comment and then get ready to play your part in helping libraries grow, adapt and flourish in our brave new world.