In February 2019, Surrey County Council Cabinet finally agreed that the charity, NewSPAL (New Surrey Performing Arts Library), would be allowed to take on and run one of the largest music and drama collections in the country, numbering over 200,000 individual items.
Until the new facility in Woking is ready, the collection is still available through the council in Ewell Library – see www.newspal.org.uk for details.
Meanwhile, NewSPAL has leapt into action to manage the transition, as ever strongly supported by users in Surrey. Around £95k of the total £150k needed to get the new performing arts library up and running has now been raised, almost entirely through individuals, groups and fundraising activities.
Having acquired the software to manage the new catalogue and hiring processes online, project manager Victoria Taylor has trained and co-ordinated a large number of volunteers to help with stock-taking and cataloguing the collection.
Consultation meetings with users have taken place, communication systems put in place and plans made for the physical move and setting up of the new facility.
NewSPAL will be a facility for groups throughout the UK, who will be able to see live availability of material, reserve and pay online. Material can be despatched by courier to wherever groups are based (or picked up from Woking in person).
Building on the model developed in Nottingham in 2016, NewSPAL will be a major resource for any music group and, it is hoped, a model for other music libraries in other parts of the UK to follow.
There is still some way to go, so NewSPAL is asking anyone interested in their development to sign up to their newsletter, to support them through fundraising, volunteering or advertising in their concert programme, and to help to spread the word by sharing their social media pages.
This is a fine example of a community mobilising support and taking action to save a resource which is important to them, and Making Music is proud to be playing its part in this development which could lead the way for the future of music libraries in the UK.
Find out more about Making Music's libraries campaigning.