Campaign to stop closure of YLI Music and Drama Service
Making Music has successfully campaigned to save the Wakefield music collection, one of the most important national collections in the UK, used by thousands of voluntary music groups.
Last modified on: 14/03/2012
Wakefield music collection is saved!
Following intensive efforts by a large number of people and organisations, we are delighted to report that the important music collection housed at Wakefield library has been saved. The entire collection will be housed at Huddersfield library in West Yorkshire and managed by Fresh Horizons, a well-established social enterprise based in Huddersfield.
- A number of bids to run the music collection were examined by the Yorkshire Libraries and Information (YLI) review group, which included user representatives from Making Music (Chief Executive Robin Osterley and Yorkshire volunteer Judith Sunderland) and the International Association of Music Libraries. Each bid had some limitations, but the group decided that the bid from Huddersfield was very close to being ideal and, with the exception of the loss of expertise mentioned below, provided an excellent solution.
- The collection will be managed by Fresh Horizons, a social enterprise who have extensive experience of managing library facilities in Yorkshire. This means that the necessary IT and cataloguing facilities are already working effectively and the music collection can be easily incorporated into them.
- The collection will be managed on a not-for-profit basis with no call upon the public purse. YLI will be absolved of the necessity to fund the service from 1 April 2011 onwards.
- The entire music collection (with the exception of some duplicate material) will still be available on loan from the new facility.
- At the moment browsing facilities will be limited, but it is hoped that in due course this can be offered more extensively.
- Sadly the existing staff at Wakefield will not be transferring to the new facility. Fresh Horizons however are extremely keen to learn and are especially hoping to utilise volunteer expertise to help with the learning process and indeed with providing advice and guidance on an ongoing basis. Making Music members and volunteers will be asked for assistance in due course.
- Making Music has offered to assist in any way possible to ensure the success of the new facility.
- The drama collection formerly housed at Wakefield is being moved to Leeds library, where it will be merged with the existing drama collection there and managed by the existing Leeds library staff. The collection of books about music is to be disposed of – much of it was very out of date in any case.
Considering the situation at the beginning of November 2011, which was that the music collection was to be broken up and housed in various libraries around Yorkshire, this can be rated as a tremendous success for the lobbying efforts of all concerned. In particular Making Music wishes to acknowledge the following:
- First and foremost its entire membership. Of the 3,000 groups contacted by Making Music, well over 2,000 wrote letters and emails protesting the decision to close the library. Without that pressure it is fair to say this result would never have happened.
- Further, numerous letters and emails of protest were written by our members to MPs and Councillors to bring pressure to bear. This political pressure has proved very influential.
- Over 400 Making Music members also responded to the survey of usage of the YLI Music and Drama Service. This was very helpful in gauging the demand that could be expected in the future, and the potential income that could result.
- Well over 100 letters were written by Making Music to ministers, MPs, MEPs and Councillors. We are very grateful to the large number of such stakeholders who responded positively and took action with government and local authorities to help bring this solution about.
- The YLI Council Chair, Councillor Andrew Pinnock, was heavily involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations and working through the various options. It is only through his diligence and determination that this solution came about.
- The staff of Wakefield library, especially manager Kate Holliday, showed remarkable forbearance throughout a very difficult and painful process. No praise can be too high for the service they have given over the last 6 months and we are very sorry to lose them.
- Making Music’s Yorkshire volunteers, especially Judith Sunderland, were enormously helpful in supporting and encouraging the YLI campaign.
Making Music is obviously delighted that this campaign has ended as well as it has, and is proud of the part it has played in bringing about a successful conclusion. Although there could have been better outcomes (for example the local authorities concerned could have lived up to their civic responsibilities to support the service) there could also have been many that were much, much worse. We should all be happy in the knowledge that the music is safe and will be available to all music groups for hire, wherever they are in the UK.
Finally we are very much looking forward to working with Fresh Horizons to promote and enhance the service and are offering whatever help we can to their management and staff.