29 May 2018: Tabled reply from Cllr Denise Turner-Stewart at 29 May 2018 Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting to the public question asked by NewSPAL trustee John Thornely:
The Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) is one of very few remaining specialist libraries in the UK in this field, illustrating the challenges of keeping a specialist library open in difficult times. Our objective has been to find a long-term solution for the SPAL that achieves savings whilst continuing to ensure the collection is accessible to users.
We are developing a proposal whereby we would continue to operate the collection more cost effectively by assimilating SPAL music and drama into the mainstream library service supported by trained library staff. The option for an independent future for SPAL was part of our user consultation as a possible way of safeguarding SPAL's longer-term future and we have been working with the trustees of NewSPAL regarding their proposition for the library.
There is a slight delay in finalising our proposals, whilst we are exploring options for interim arrangements for SPAL, particularly a recently identified opportunity for alternative relocation which needed technical property assessment in accordance with our duty of good governance.
We advised NewSPAL that we had to postpone the report from going to May Cabinet as the additional property information was not yet available and gave an assurance that this delay was solely in relation to interim arrangements for the library and not for any reason relating to longer-term arrangements.
We anticipate the report will be presented to Cabinet shortly, once our assessments are complete.
Ms Denise Turner-Stewart
Cabinet Member for Community Services
The Surrey Performing Arts Library is an award winning library for the performing arts – one of the three largest in England – currently run as part of Surrey County Council (SCC) Libraries.
It is used by hundreds of music and drama groups in Surrey and beyond, to hire multiple copies of plays and scores, and by individuals to borrow specialist books, music and other resources.
In the face of severe budget challenges, SCC propose to move the collection in April, splitting it over two or more libraries, and leaving it without specialist staff, to save money.
If that goes ahead, we believe this will quickly lead to the deterioration of the material and ultimately the loss of this great resource.
NewSPAL is a newly formed charity overseen by users for users, offering to take over the running of the performing arts library from SCC to safeguard it for the future.
NewSPAL needs your help to get going!
NewSPAL needs to prove to SCC that it has the support of users and that it can raise pledges of £125,000 and of volunteer time for the transition from SCC to NewSPAL.
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