Wednesday, 12 March 2008

What will happen when MLA Yorkshire disappears?

I have posted on the demise of the regional MLA bodies and how disappointing this is. Roy Clare was apparently very cross with the response of MLA Yorkshire and the comments by John Tarrant, preferring it would seem that MLAY should just roll over and play dead and not rock the boat. I e-mailed Roy (or the Admiral as Perkins likes to call him) asking for his comments but he has not bothered to reply.

The question now is what will happen post-MLAY? It is not the role of MLAY to set up a successor body to take over from them although Annie Mauger (Chief Executive) has said that she is prepared to facilitate any discussions. It is up to the library services in our region to decide what they want and how they want to achieve it. The wants list would certainly include a body that could represent and lobby on behalf of libraries with the regional and national decision making bodies such as Yorkshire Forward; strategic planning; promoting and supporting library and information services; co-operating with the museums and archives sectors; and supporting and delivering regional training and CPD activities. What is needed is some sort of regional development agency for libraries along the lines of LLDA in London. or Libraries and Information East Midlands.

There are a number of bodies already in existence that could play a part in this. The Society of Chief Librarians in Yorkshire is a forum for public libraries. Yorkshire Libraries and Information is the Regional Library System for Yorkshire and Humber (although if you visit their home page you will see it was last updated in November 2003). The CILIP Yorkshire & Humberside Branch represents CILIP members in the region and organises some CPD events.

Then there is SINTO. We have grown from a Sheffield based partnership to one covering South Yorkshire (and north Derbyshire), and now have members in West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. There is no reason why we should not extend our remit to cover all of Yorkshire and the Humber. This would require a major expansion of the SINTO office, but I don't see this expansion in terms of SINTO recruiting more members. Instead, the libraries in the region need to decide if they want to set up a development agency and then build on the existing structures, including SINTO, to achieve this.

All this needs to be discussed by the SINTO Executive and the existing members. It is possible that they will decide they don't want SINTO to change and grow. One of our USPs is that SINTO is a local consortium for local libraries and expansion might damage this. However, the opportunity is there to build on the ashes of MLA Yorkshire.

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