Monday, 21 April 2008

SINTO Foundation Agreement

From left to right. Ann Betterton (Sheffield Hallam University), Janice Maskort (Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information) and Martin Lewis (University of Sheffield).

This photograph shows the signing of the SINTO Foundation agreement last week. This might strike you as odd as SINTO has existed since 1932!

In fact, SINTO in its present form, as a forum for strategic planning and partnership (rather than an inter-library loan organisation), was established in 1993 by Sheffield Public Libraries, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. The three partners agreed on how the new organisation would operate but for various reasons a formal foundation agreement was not signed. Over the next few years several attempts were made to draft an agreement but these all fell through.

A few years ago this caused a particular problem for SINTO when Sheffield City Council announced that it would be absorbing the funds held for SINTO by the City Council in order to cover a deficit in the city's finances. The lack of an agreed foundation document meant that the status of SINTO was uncertain. When this particular problem was resolved it was decided that a foundation agreement was essential and this was signed at the SINTO Executive meeting on the 15th April 2008.

The signing of the agreement should have little impact on SINTO members. We will continue to operate as we have been doing in the past. But it is worth asking, if SINTO did not exist would we want to invent it? The principles that SINTO stands for - partnership, co-operation, information planning - are important and as valid today as they were in 1993 or 1932. As it says in the agreement, SINTO was established "as a means of achieving more effective and efficient library services and thus contribute to the economic, educational and social infrastructure of Sheffield, South Yorkshire and the surrounding area."

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