The 8 February Surrey County Council (SCC) Communities Select Committee adopted some recommendations for the future of SPAL which will now be put – alongside recommendations from the council officers – to the full SCC Cabinet on 27 March.
Since the last meeting in November, four users and representatives of Making Music, FOSPAL (Friends of SPAL) and IAML (International Association of Music Librarians) have formed a new charity (NewSPAL) in a bid to take over the running of this music library.
On 8 February, councillors expressed a lot of sympathy for this bid, but fell short of recommending it outright as an option because NewSPAL was asking them to finance the transition to the new charity and councillors felt unable to promise any money to SPAL whatsoever after 1 April 2018.
So in order to get what Making Music feels would be the right decision at the SCC Cabinet meeting on 27 March (namely one recommending NewSPAL as the best option for the future of SPAL), NewSPAL is now launching an urgent campaign to ask users and potential users for their support by way of pledges – practical help, funds, ideas, volunteer time - to implement a move to a new building and to the new charity.
NewSPAL needs some evidence by 15 March so that it will be able to demonstrate to Cabinet that its proposed solution is both supported by users and that its plans are feasible, represent no risk to the collection and maintain at least as good a service as the fall-back option SCC themselves are proposing (and which Making Music, FOSPAL and IAML, as well as many users, think will be wholly inadequate).
This update is going out far beyond the borders of Surrey because this library is of importance to groups all over the UK – and NewSPAL will only be able to be financially sustainable, its trustees believe, if its model includes hiring to non-Surrey groups, too.
If there is no credible case for NewSPAL by the time of the cabinet meeting, SCC will implement their option from April which involves moving the collection, splitting drama and music into two libraries, and having no dedicated or specialist staff.