New Surrey Performing Arts Library (NewSPAL) now open

NewSPAL, the charity taking on Surrey County Council’s performing arts collection, is now open for business. With the support of its community and patrons, it has established a more sustainable future for the SPAL collection.

Five years after Surrey County Council started a consultation on the future of its performing arts collection, the Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL), with the help of - and donations from - hundreds of volunteers, and much patient lobbying from new charity NewSPAL, created in 2018 to take on the collection from Surrey, we are absolutely delighted to share with you the news that NewSPAL is now open for business. 

Groups from anywhere in the country can now sign up to hire choral, orchestral and band sets on a pay-as-you-go basis. There is also a large collection of chamber music, scores and books about the performing arts which can be browsed and borrowed by individuals from NewSPAL's library in Ewell (Epsom, Surrey). Visit their website for more information and to browse the catalogues at any time. Registering, checking availability and ordering sets can all be done online.

This is a remarkable day – it is the first time one of the major collections has been given to an independent charity to run. When it was tried before, with the Yorkshire Music Library (YML), that experiment failed, but only because the backing organisation went into administration (the collection was then taken on by Leeds Libraries). I should also mention here the Community & Youth Music Library (CYML) which is also an independent charity, but its set-up is different, though also originating from a public sector holding. 

Groups from anywhere in the country can now sign up to hire choral, orchestral and band sets on a pay-as-you-go basis.

NewSPAL has learnt many lessons from looking at the CYML model and at the successful elements of the YML which proved, under the strong leadership of Sophie Anderson, that a standalone not-for-profit music library could break even, if digital systems helped keep costs down and users were able to contribute a fair, but affordable price. Much was also learnt on the challenges of the Inter Library Loans system which crucially allows users to tap into a wide range of repertoire, and from the way that Nottingham designed its new online service in 2016. All this has contributed to the way NewSPAL has set itself up.

I am very proud that Making Music’s support over the last five years has helped bring such a ground-breaking project to a successful conclusion and ensure that one of the three largest collections of sheet music available on public loan in the UK remains available to users.

Over to you now – help it to success by using it!

Barbara Eifler
Chief Executive of Making Music

Visit NewSPAL’s website to find out more about this initiative, register, browse the catalogue and order materials.

Keep up to date with the charity by following them on Twitter and Facebook