Surrey Performing Arts Library – a national resource under threat

Music libraries are by no means used by all Making Music members. But to those groups that rely on them, these resources are a lifeline; enabling them to access a vast repertoire via Inter Library Loans, at a cost which ensures they can survive as a self-funded community group.

Councils, though, struggling as they are with their finances, are increasingly unable to provide a music library. In some cases (for example Nottingham and Norwich), Making Music has been able to work with the local authority to help develop sustainable models for such services.

Currently, we are working with Surrey County Council (SCC) on finding a solution for Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) which is one of the three largest collection in the UK and thus heavily relied on by libraries and groups from elsewhere. The SCC Communities Select Committee on 7 November recommended that Making Music, FOSPAL (the Friends organisation) and IAML (association of music librarians) work with council officers to develop a credible ‘option 2’ for SPAL.

‘Option 1’ would see SPAL retained by Surrey, but without dedicated staff, splitting the collection among several libraries, and cutting the stock budget completely. We fear this will lead to rapid deterioration of stock, fewer borrowers, and ultimately closure.

‘Option 2’ would see an external body take on the running of a SPAL. Surrey is talking to a commercial provider about this, but the other option is to set up an independent Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) for this purpose.

There will also be, in either case, an interim review of the charges currently levied by Surrey.

Get involved

The next Communities Select Committee meeting on 8 February 2018 will make recommendations then to be decided on by Surrey’s Cabinet on 27 March 2018. If you have an interest in this issue and are a voter in Surrey, please do attend either or both of these meetings to impress your support for this resource on elected members of Surrey.

Whatever option is finally decided on, however, will also have an impact beyond the borders of Surrey. Therefore, representatives from libraries and groups from outside Surrey are also warmly invited to attend the meeting on 13 January as detailed below. The meeting will be chaired by FOSPAL. Making Music, IAML and officers as well as elected members of Surrey will be represented.

A public meeting will be held on Saturday 13 January, 10.30-12.30, in Leatherhead to update users and interested parties on progress with SPAL.


Book your place