As you’ll have seen in Kim Bromley-Derry’s recent blog, the Taskforce has been discussing what it needs to focus on over the next few years.
In light of this, it has also been considering how the work of the dedicated Taskforce team will need to evolve. At the start of 2017, the Taskforce had just published the Libraries Deliver: Ambition document, with a packed Action Plan alongside it. The first year of activity was designed to start laying the foundations needed to achieve the aspirations set out in Ambition. The team published a blog post reflecting on achievements over 2017, with the Taskforce and its members working on a huge variety of topics including:
- highlighting the value of libraries and the work they are already undertaking to support delivery of central and local government policy priorities
- building a stronger evidence base to help support what we are saying about the value of the sector
- publishing our basic dataset and agreeing the contents list for a new core dataset - this includes the data the sector has decided it needs to manage and improve its services
- producing guidance documents and toolkits on a variety of topics to help the sector implement the new ways of working we set out in the Ambition document
- running numerous events and masterclasses to bring people from the sector together to develop further skills and share learning
- publishing a Public Libraries Skills Strategy
So, strong foundations to build on!
Planning for 2018 - transition
The Taskforce has now published its action plan covering 2018 through to 2020, setting out goals for each year. It is very mindful that its DCMS funding (£500k per annum) ceases in March 2020, and it wants to ensure that library services seamlessly continue to receive the support they need up to, and beyond, that point. To achieve that, the Taskforce team’s work needs to become mainstreamed into other Taskforce member organisations well before March 2020.
Therefore, at its last meeting in March, the Taskforce agreed a transition plan, setting out the work that needs to continue, who should take over its leadership, and from when. This has subsequently been considered and endorsed by the Libraries Minister and the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board (as the Taskforce’s joint sponsors).
In summary, most of the Taskforce team’s work will eventually transition to either the DCMS Libraries team (as policy lead) or Arts Council England (to build on its role as the library development body). In the main, we’re aiming to achieve this from October 2018. This should then allow plenty of time for the work to be fully embedded into the relevant organisations prior to Taskforce funding ceasing.
To ensure a smooth transition of activities from the Taskforce team to ACE, a secondee from ACE (Sophie Lancaster) is now located with the Taskforce team (she’ll be with us from April to October 2018). During that time, with support from the Taskforce team, Sophie will start to lead on activities to be transitioned over to ACE (such as secretariat functions, oversight of research, good practice sharing and toolkit work). This will build an understanding of what is required to sustain this work and ensure no momentum is lost.
And recognising the increase in workload for the DCMS Libraries team, the department has begun a recruitment process to boost its capacity. DCMS and the Taskforce team will work closely together in the run up to October 2018 to ensure work transitions seamlessly.
We'll carry on with
The Taskforce agreed that further scoping work would be needed on some topics before a new home could be decided on. The Taskforce Team’s communications lead will undertake a piece of work looking at Taskforce communications - for example where various Taskforce documents and resources (currently located on the Taskforce’s GOV.UK site or blog) might best sit, and how the monthly newsletter for library staff and media monitoring reports might be handled in future. Her proposals will be discussed at the Taskforce’s June meeting.
There are some time-limited pieces of work led by the Taskforce team that will continue, even though these may not be completed until after most of the team’s functions transition to DCMS or ACE. These include: publication of the Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone (LOFE) innovation fund evaluation report; masterclasses on evaluation tools and techniques; work on the core dataset; and development of a new Library Management System requirements document. So from October 2018, it’s planned that any outstanding work, plus the people delivering it, will transition into the DCMS Libraries team until that work is finished.
As we get closer to October 2018, we’ll share more information - for example, who the lead contacts will be for particular pieces of work. In the meantime, please contact the Taskforce team (firstname.lastname@example.org) as usual.