This presentation focuses on the work we have been doing across the ten Greater Manchester library services to look at the potential benefits of shared services. We’d like to describe the journey we’ve been on over the last 9 months – and to let you know at the outset that we haven’t yet arrived at our destination!
Library services in Greater Manchester and indeed across the whole of the North West have a strong track record of partnership working to drive value for money, improved services to customers and generate efficiencies. This has its roots in the long history of library co-operation across the UK and the inter-library lending systems that were set up in the 1970s We have a stock purchasing consortium that delivers better value for money. At the time of creating that arrangement we also looked at wider bibliographic services and through greater uptake of supplier services for shelf ready stock and internal business reprocessing we concluded that a single Bib Services unit was not necessary Ask About Business uses the specialist staff and collections of Manchester Central Library to provide a high quality services across the whole of GM and to other councils in the North West. The partner services pay a subscription to Manchester. Time to Read is our reader development network with a regional co-ordinator paid for by contributions from all services More recent developments are around stock management and new developments such as e-resources .
We are proud of what we have achieved together through professional networks and service agreements. But we also recognise that this could go further and that we needed to stretch our thinking. We set ourselves this challenging question: Can the library services of Greater Manchester work together to achieve service transformation that will deliver significant cost savings and ensure a sustainable quality customer service offer for the future?
When we began to look at the concept of shared services we saw it mainly in financial terms. We were attracted to the potential financial savings that were being talked about for London libraries and in East of England. If merging services could help avoid the annual budget slicing of the 80s and 90s, surely this was a good thing? The enthusiasts for the idea of a bigger service at less cost thought it was a no-brainer! However, the question of size is not a straightforward one – when does bigger start to have additional costs with few additional benefits? When does the law of diminishing returns kick in?
In September last year GM Libraries were selected as one of the 10 Future Library pilots to look at the feasibility of shared services. At the same time the NW region received funding from the NW Improvement & Efficiency Partnership to look at shared services across the whole 23 authorities. We managed the projects in parallel to make the most of the available funding and to get the widest pool of ideas and support.
The Future Libraries Programme and NWIEP provided funding for a piece of work we had long wanted to do – to test the feasibility of integrating library services as a region or as sub-regional clusters. We set out to consider the potential benefits – both in terms of financial savings AND customer service improvements We considered three options for change Collaboration on procurement and specialist services (more of what we do now) Merge strategic management and specialist staff Full merger of services including customer facing services – and a fourth being to keep things as they are at the moment.
In brief, the feasibility work showed that there was a Sharing Dividend – that is, benefits that are possible by doing things together rather than as individual services. But it also showed that these benefits are mainly in the areas of service improvement, service development and sustainability. The assumption that it was an easy way to make cashable savings did not hold up. I will explain this more in a moment. The work also recognised that Greater Manchester had a more recognisable geographical cohesion. It also had AGMA as a body that could provide a forum for managing change. This is now further strengthened by the creation of the Statutory Combined Authority. The other parts of the NW do not have this advantage.
Like all the projects to explore shared services we began by chasing the money. We believed that in the current climate that’s what elected members and chief executives would want. Surely there would be easy savings on management and specialist services? We had always hoped to find savings from a shared services approach but we were also clear that this could not be in place to deal with the budgets for 2011/12. While we were doing the feasibility study, councils received the toughest local government settlement in a generation. The savings required for 2011/12 were much greater than we had thought. We are all facing some very tough measures that are being implemented now. The baseline budgets for future years will be much lower and this will affect the cashable benefits of the sharing dividend.
The wider North West Project Board agreed that a focus on Greater Manchester would be the most productive way forward and that the GM authorities, working with AGMA could test some of the ideas and share those with the wider region. Here’s a quick profile of GM Libraries. The current arrangement provides a strong delivery platform for libraries – but is it the right one for the future?
The business AND the busyness! Libraries are well used and by a wider range of people than any other public service. When looked at across GM it’s big business financially too. This is just the 10 GM services. There will be the option for the AGMA Associates – Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Cheshire East and Warrington to join us in taking things forward.
We are not alone in looking at shared services for libraries. Can we do it? That’s still an open question but there are some things in our favour. We have the AGMA advantage. We also have a stronger track record of working together already. A GM Library Service would be big – the largest in the UK. It would be of sufficient scale to stand alone as an organisation – in fact that might give it the best business advantage. We like the comparison with New York Public Library – a single non-profit organisation that serves very different boroughs and balances the ability to attract funding for its iconic services to support neighbourhood libraries.
In the feasibility work Option 3 – the single service - emerged as the strongest option because – refer to bullet points on slide . Point on new map – this new map would explain the relationships between the new Manchester Central Library, the district central libraries and the community/neighbourhood libraries, giving people a more explicit opportunity to be part of a wider service. BUT it was also recognised that this is the most difficult of the options to implement.
When we began our engagement with AGMA it was during the budget setting process and the initial focus was obviously about the potential for savings. As councils began to make their own savings the financial arguments became less important than the intellectual concept. Linking the services together in a federation (like New York) could deliver more for residents – it was about bigger, better, together and that’s a powerful counterbalance to cuts and closures.
AGMA has created a Challenge Group to test these ideas. There is a tension around local identity – not just at an authority level and – when politicians say they support libraries they usually mean their local branch library rather than the library service as a whole Elected members are concerned about the erosion of their powers and question ceding more to bigger bodies This can sometimes go against the grain of professional judgement - we can make the case for economies of scale but this may not be more important than local independence and political sovereignty Although there is common ground in terms of overall aims for the 10 library services, there is a wide range of delivery policies and standards There are also differences in the numbers of staff and their terms & conditions. One of the biggest challenges is that we, the librarians, are ahead in our thinking. The idea has not come from and is not being driven by the chief executives, treasurers or elected members. Obviously a merged service would not have 10 chief librarians – and they wonder why turkeys might vote for Christmas! What they forget is that we are passionate about the service and want to see it thrive, regardless of what structure or governance model it needs to do that
To answer the question of why librarians might want a merged service we have realised that we need to take Chief Executives and Leaders on our journey – and library staff – today is a key part of that process. We need to demonstrate what we have already achieved, what we can do now and always focus on the benefits, especially to residents and customers. We need a strong and compelling case for bigger, better, together
This is our aim, our vision.
It could be a pathfinder city region service supporting key priority areas such as skills, employability and healthy living. It would provide the opportunity to look again at the library map and start to re-design the infrastructure it needs for the future.
We also need to ask whether it is desirable to expand the scope to include some or all other cultural services. GM museums have carried out a feasibility study to look at the potential benefits of shared services. GM Archives are about to embark on a similar piece of work. Cultural services are seen as a vital strand of the GM City Region’s strategy, linking with economic sustainability and sense of place. Even if there is no formal link with other cultural services, libraries must demonstrate their role in the wider cultural strategy.
The feasibility study has indicated that there is a business case for a shared single service. AGMA is engaged with the importance of library services and we are now in the right place to engage with the key stakeholders. For various reasons we thought that we had to deliver a very quick solution. In fact, that’s not what AGMA wants – it wants the right solution. We were in danger of entering a shotgun marriage when what we need is a pre-nuptial agreement – thought through and considered. That doesn’t mean that we sit back and let it happen – we need to keep up the pace and keep ourselves prepared for new developments and moments of advantage. The move to a merged service in a single leap would have been high drama but we’re not looking for headlines – we want to bring our stakeholders with us, to recognise and manage the complexity and the subtleties of the situation. This is not like a top down local government reorganisation – it’s not an imperative – it’s a choice. And the situation changes. Anyone working in local government knows that the last six months have been a roller-coaster. We have also learned that it is not a linear or incremental process. We need to be flexible while holding on to the vision for better library services for all the people of Greater Manchester. That’s the bigger prize.
The vision is vital and we are not losing sight of the bigger aim. Political buy-in might take time but we can move some things forward without the complications of governance changes. We have a draft list of priorities for 2011/12, yet to be finally agreed, that will help us move in the right direction and deliver benefits to customers. One Library Card One Information Service Performance, benchmarking and peer review – an honest look at the differences in performance between services and the opportunity to move to the most efficient delivery model based on an agreed standard library offer Reading – how to build on good practice of TTR and national initiatives like SRC to provide a high quality and efficient reading offer An integrated network of local and family history – a huge growth area – this will need to tie in with the Archives work which is till in the early stages We will be looking at these in more detail in the working groups in a moment. They could be stand alone initiatives or part of the bigger prize.
Our AGMA Challenge Group likes the idea of the bigger prize. We have been talking about NYPL and how that brings together the neighbourhoods with the iconic building on 5 th Avenue into a single identity and yet it’s federal. There is a sharing dividend and that’s more than financial. It will give us the scale and the clout and the capacity to keep responding to new developments and changing needs. We have moved from a menu of possible things to share in order to save money to an overarching vision for the city region. Perhaps we should have got the vision sooner – perhaps we should have gone to Vision Express! But maybe things have their moment. Perhaps there is an advantage in the budget pressures. Perhaps we needed time to see it for ourselves. Who knows if the journey will end with a single GMLS but on the way our eyes have been opened to a better way of doing things on a bigger scale and libraries are on the agenda of chief executives and council leaders in a way that they never have been before.
Papers relating to our work on shared services are available in the partnership area of the North West libraries website.
Library, Information & Archives: 2020 Vision
AGMA Library, Information and Archive Services 2020 Vision
Track record of partnership work <ul><li>Decades of library co-operation – ILL </li></ul><ul><li>Stock purchasing consortium </li></ul><ul><li>Ask About Business </li></ul><ul><li>Time to Read </li></ul><ul><li>Stock management </li></ul><ul><li>E-books and e-resources </li></ul>
Our challenge <ul><li>Can the ten library services of Greater Manchester work together to achieve service transformation that will deliver significant cost savings and ensure a sustainable quality customer service offer for the future? </li></ul>
Shared Services <ul><li>Initially driven by the economics </li></ul><ul><li>An alternative to salami slicing in individual services </li></ul><ul><li>Size matters </li></ul>
The projects <ul><li>Future Libraries Programme – Greater Manchester </li></ul><ul><li>NWIEP – all North West </li></ul><ul><li>Managed in parallel </li></ul><ul><li>Shared funding </li></ul><ul><li>Wider learning and support </li></ul>
Options <ul><li>Collaboration on procurement and specialist services (more of what we do now) </li></ul><ul><li>Merge strategic management and specialist staff </li></ul><ul><li>Full merger of services including customer facing services </li></ul><ul><li>Status quo </li></ul>
Feasibility findings <ul><li>Sharing Dividend possible – but more to gain in service improvement and sustainability terms than cashable savings </li></ul><ul><li>Greater Manchester has the AGMA (and now GMCA) advantage </li></ul><ul><li>Not the case for other parts of NW </li></ul>
Chasing the money <ul><li>Always knew that cashable savings dividend would not be in place to deliver savings in 2011/12 </li></ul><ul><li>Savings for 2011/12 now much greater than anticipated – severe measures being taken now by councils </li></ul><ul><li>This also affects the potential cashable savings dividend for the future </li></ul>
GM - current position <ul><li>10 library authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Providing the statutory ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service through: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>168 library service points (50% collocated and integrated with other services/partners) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2,000 computers for customers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 million books and other media items </li></ul></ul>
The business … <ul><li>1.4 million registered customers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(65% of residents) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>11.5 million visits were made to libraries </li></ul><ul><li>1.5 million customer computer sessions took place in libraries </li></ul><ul><li>3 million visits were made to library website/online catalogue </li></ul><ul><li>Net expenditure £51 million </li></ul>
Is a GMLS viable? <ul><li>Coherent geography and identity – AGMA, GMCA, LEP </li></ul><ul><li>Libraries – common purpose, track record of collaboration, support of senior library managers to develop full business case </li></ul><ul><li>Greater Manchester Library Service – largest of its kind in England </li></ul><ul><li>More viable if separate organisation? – income generation, other sources of funding </li></ul>
Single service option <ul><li>Provides a new platform of centres of excellence, district hubs and localised neighbourhood services </li></ul><ul><li>Provides opportunities to drive efficiency AND improvement </li></ul><ul><li>A new map on which to reassess the statutory definition of ‘comprehensive and efficient’ </li></ul>
AGMA engagement <ul><li>Began during the budget setting </li></ul><ul><li>Individual authorities making their own savings </li></ul><ul><li>Attention shifted to the ‘idea’ the ‘concept’ – bigger, better, together - the NYPL </li></ul>
AGMA challenges <ul><li>Local identity </li></ul><ul><li>Role of elected members – political sovereignty </li></ul><ul><li>Professional judgement </li></ul><ul><li>Harmonisation of service standards </li></ul><ul><li>Alignment of staff terms & conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Why do librarians want this? </li></ul>
Sharing our journey <ul><li>Vision for GM libraries in 2020 </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of partnership benefits to date </li></ul><ul><li>Mapping a realistic timeline for alignment </li></ul><ul><li>Making improvements NOW through benchmarking and shared practice </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on customer benefits </li></ul>
Aim <ul><li>To create a vibrant, high quality, relevant and economically sustainable public library service for the people of Greater Manchester for the 21 st century </li></ul>
Benefits <ul><li>City Region Library Service supporting: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Healthy living </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>High quality infrastructure of main libraries: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Connected and providing centres of excellence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A new map of provision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hubs to support localised neighbourhood service points </li></ul></ul>
Moving forward <ul><li>Feasibility work indicates potential for substantial customer service benefits and some savings </li></ul><ul><li>Working within AGMA to build on the feasibility work through the new improvement programme </li></ul><ul><li>Timing and pace </li></ul><ul><li>Complex and subtle interplay of stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul>
Priorities for 2011/12 <ul><li>One Library Card </li></ul><ul><li>Information Services </li></ul><ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><li>Performance, benchmarking & peer review </li></ul><ul><li>Archives and local studies </li></ul>
The bigger prize <ul><li>NYPL </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing dividend </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable future </li></ul><ul><li>Vision 2020 </li></ul><ul><li>Should have gone to Vision Express! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Thank you </li></ul><ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Comments? </li></ul>