Managing in Hard Times


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CILIPS President, 2010, Chris Pinder's presentation from the Autumn Gathering, held on the 27th October at the Carnegie Conference Centre.

Discusses the problems faced by libraries now and in the future and ways to deal with them.

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  • Bet you thought it would be Charles Dickens!
    I thought the bare-knuckle fighter that Bronson portrays in this film is more appropriate for the times we are in!
    There is no easy fix, no silver bullet.
    Times are hard and will probably get harder still.
    If we’ve just passed through the golden age, I wish someone had told me so I could have enjoyed it more!
    As CILIPS President I get a double whammy on hard times.
    I have to deal with the situation in my own job and I also get to learn about some of the difficulties everyone else is facing in Scotland and elsewhere.
    This presentation is wide-ranging both in content and geographically. I’ve not confined examples to Scotland. There is much going on south of the Border that illustrates approaches taken to deal with hard times; some of which may be valuable exemplars for us in Scotland.
  • My presentation is in 3 parts.
    I begin by using Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign tag line to look briefly at the position facing public services generally and libraries in particular.
    I then invoke the words attributed to Jim Callaghan who in the winter of 1978-79, on his return from a meeting in the Caribbean, dismissed the mounting chaos caused by strikes during the winter of discontent . The next day the Sun newspaper headline was “Crisis, what crisis?”
    In this section I’ll look at what is actually happening in our libraries and public services.
    Finally, I use again the CILIPS conference theme of “Yes, We can” to look at some of the options and opportunities available to us to ensure we can carry on delivering library services to our communities.
  • Last weeks Comprehensive Spending Review set out the Government’s intentions for the next few years.
    In the UK as a whole some £109 billion needs to be saved by 2014-15 through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. The Con-Lib coalition has now agreed to find just under 80 per cent from spending cuts and a little more than 20 per cent from tax rises.
    There is a clear intention to make deep and sustained cuts across the board…and we know that thousands of jobs are at risk throughout the civil service and the public sector.
    Of course, none of this takes us by surprise…the extent of the cuts has been flagged for some considerable time and local authorities, universities and others have been considering the likely impact …and their response…for a while.
    George Osborne handed the poisoned chalice to John Swinney last week and we should learn more when he publishes the Scottish Draft budget next month.
    Given that some areas are sacrosanct, e.g. NHS, it is likely that local authority budgets will be hit hard. And 2011-12 will be harder as the Scottish Govt decided to forgo the in-year cuts that others took in 2010-11.
  • There will clearly be an impact on Libraries. We are living in difficult times and it would be wrong to expect libraries were immune to cuts.
    The Government keeps stressing the need for Fairness in the programme of cuts and if libraries are treated fairly then at the very least we will not feel that we have been singled out.
    Annie Mauger, CILIP’s CEO said last week: We believe that if local authorities think that they can no longer afford public libraries they are wrong. They can’t afford NOT to have them.
    Particularly in times of hardship in society, the social contribution of libraries comes to the fore. People need community spaces to learn, to access support, to develop skills, to get information, to relax and escape and to do things for free. People need places to take their children, to spend time and feel welcome and to get help with daily problems.
    Libraries are, generally, not stand-alone but are part of a larger organisation be it a local authority or a university. The very least we should expect is that we are treated in an even-handed way with the other departments that make up those organisations.
    So we need to ensure that we squeeze every ounce of value out of every pound we’re given.
    Library users as consumers: Cultural influences from the private sector do make their way into service provision through user expectations and demands. The notion of the citizen consumer is an important consideration here. The citizen consumer expects the same quality of service from the public sector as they do the private sector. Thus, the public sector needs to ensure that its facilities and services are to the standard of those provided by organisations with a commercial motive. The key issue is one of choice, that is the public have a choice in whether or not
    to use public libraries and public librarians need to ensure that the choice is an attractive one.
    What is interesting in the academic sector, and it’s highlighted by the Browne Report (which I know doesn’t cover Scotland but it will have an impact one way or another) is increased tuition fees makes our students real consumers and they will want real value for money. So cuts to university library services will be challenged by those paying more for their education.
    The last few months have seen a greater media spotlight on libraries than any other time I can remember. Unfortunately it is because we are under threat!
    Our own Gillian Hanlon has appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s MacAulay & Co show and Rhona Arthur appeared on Kaye Adam’s phone-in show speaking about the value of libraries.
    Campaigns and demonstrations by local people are welcome and may help local councillors, or whoever holds the purse strings, think again about proposed closures.
  • National & Local campaigners are stressing the value of libraries. Though not everyone with a voice sings from the same songsheet.
    Tim Coates tells us that we don’t know who uses public libraries and for what. But he admits that local authorities have less idea about what libraries are for than the people who use them. Tim states in Panlibus Magazine… “Libraries are about books. Take them away, he says, and it’s not a library. If we shoehorn the WiFi and the IT and the creche and the Advice Centre into the library we’re going to turn it into something else. They call it updating the libraries image, attracting new people into libraries who otherwise wouldn’t come. But actually its about accommodating all those other things we feel we need without actually providing space for them. What we end up with is just not a library.”
    An American Librarian speaking at the Books in Hard Times conference in 2009 said: What can libraries do on their own to help prevent the loss of staff and funding? Libraries must continue to assert their central role in a well-functioning economy and to remind the public why libraries are even more important in hard times. Libraries have created job centers, providing the relevant resources to help people find employment; libraries offer the free use of computers, a lifeline to the unemployed. Their reading rooms offer the only free higher education available. These are aspects of library involvement in society that the public is able to observe and understand. The aspect of library work that is harder to see and articulate but is strongly felt is the authority libraries command, authority that they’ve earned over time by being the advocates and guardians of free speech and of privacy and of public service and of free access to information and knowledge.
    CILIPS tells us that 60% of Scotland’s population uses libraries and there were 28.5 million visits last year…7 times more than watched Scottish football matches!
    The Browne Report admits that student satisfaction is higher when universities fund and value their library service.
    But academic librarians feel they have failed to communicate effectively the value of their services to those who fund them.
    Many in universities and local authorities have outdated views and expectations about the service librarians provide or want their libraries to look like Waterstone’s without realising that they are born of entirely different business models.
  • Know your enemy is probably an unfair heading but what I want to pursue here are some of the real issues that public and academic libraries and liobrarians are facing right now.
    Already this year CILIPS has written a number of letters to specific local authorities in response to threats to library services.
    East Dunbartonshire: CILIPS was contacted by a number of its members and also members of the public expressing their outrage and concern with the review of public Library services in East Dunbartonshire. CILIPS expressed concerns that decisions taken would result in a significantly reduced service and potentially may not meet the council’s obligation to deliver an “adequate” library service. CILIPS also concerned about the level of transparency in decision making for services which affect the public and professional/non professional staff.
    Highland: CILIPS also engaged. A budget consultation is currently on-going, but options include looking at the future of libraries and museums and community centres. Possibility of closing many rural libraries and a major urban library and reduce number of librarians in schools.
    Midlothian: Business Transformation Strategy aims to save some £25m over 4 years and will include Service Reviews across all service provision and back-office functions.
    West Lothian: It is proposed that libraries will increasingly be regarded as community resource centres delivering a wide range of services to the public in partnership with other agencies and council services. Where possible, libraries will increasingly be co-located with other services to develop the community resource centre model. The council will review the effectiveness of part time libraries and where no alternative provision can be established, these will be considered for closure.
    Increased use of technology, including the piloting of self service, will provide communities with enhanced open hours and a greater range of outlets.
    The two new mobile library facilities will also provide an outlet for the delivery of other services to the community. Increased use of technology will allow these facilities to be developed as mobile community resource centres, providing the council and partners with the opportunity to enhance services in key locations, including areas of disadvantage and rural areas.
    Savings will be sought in the library central and corporate functions to allow a focus on direct service delivery in the community.
    Stirling: We are looking at ways of being inventive with the staff we have and how they can be used. There is no political will in Stirling at the moment to close libraries, but for us to make the further savings that are being asked of us, that is what may need to happen.
    Academic Libraries: while the decade from 1999-2009 saw library expenditure increase, it has declined as a percentage of total university expenditure. Cuts in revenue and staffing budgets now order of the day.
    In my own university, we lost 4.2 staff fte (some 12% of staff costs) through Voluntary Severance last year and 3 staff resigned for personal reasons. We have not been allowed to fill any of these posts. This year our staff budget has been reduced by a further £120,000 or 8%.
    Our revenue budget has also been cut by 13% meaning, amongst other things, some £75,000 worth of reductions in journal subscriptions…and this is not fat, we were down to the bone last year!
    Furthermore, 13 service departments are being reduced to 6 with Director and other senior management posts targeted for redundancy as the University strives to make £5m cuts in staffing this year. One outcome is that the Library will merge with the C&ITS dept.
    Similar pattern of cuts, both actual and proposed, across many of Scotland’s university libraries.
    What of suppliers? Given the economic circumstances surely they will at least offer 0% increases for our resources!
    Elsevier - Total revenues in 2009: £1,985m (an increase of 4% when adjusted for constant currencies)
    Adjusted Operating Profit: £693m (an increase of 9% when adjusted for constant currencies)
    Profit margin: 34.9%
    Wiley: Total revenues were $1,699m (an increase of 4% when adjusted for constant currencies)
    Group operating profit was $243m. Profit margin of 14.3%
    Re. Thomson Reuters, Lorraine Estelle wrote to University Librarians stating: a key objective for us in this negotiation is to seek a lower price increase for 2011, not so much for the financial saving that it delivers but for the strategic objective of moving away from the 5% price increase level that has become something of a standard price increase for major publishers over the last few years. With significant re-negotiations just around the corner, it is very important that we can demonstrate that we have moved a major publisher away from this level of increase.
    And post-negotiation she wrote: We recognise that the percentage reductions are relatively small, but strategically, we have moved a substantial publisher away from the 5% norm that it has enjoyed for many years and for which there is no longer a rationale. As we prepare for more significant negotiations in the coming months, this small success gives us some confidence going forward.
  • Stick to the knitting – one of the themes of In search of Excellence (Peters & Waterman 1982).
    Basically means stick to what you’re good at.
    So, in library terms this is Content, Assistance and Space provision.
    Outlaw perfection – when resources are stretched there’s no point striving for perfection. Adequate carries the sense of only just good enough but really conveys sufficient to satisfy a requirement or meet a need. One senses, for example, that those who still strive for the perfect catalogue record are now missing the point!
    Maximise resources – salami slicing tends to be unhelpful and leads to doing everything poorly or inadequately. Maximising resources may mean robust pruning of services that are not considered part of core services.
    Maximising resources applies to people, money and place.
    Don’t help those who can help themselves – e-resources, web pages, self-issue and return equipment have all made life easier for the library user. Don’t duplicate effort by doing things they can do on their own. There’s plenty more for us to do!
    Share – working together or in partnership will help save staff time and financial resources. As Tim Coates says, “Year after year I and others have pointed out the ludicrous expense of two hundred separate councils each with their own bibliographic services, system specifications, management structures etc…”
  • Turning now to a more in-depth investigation of opportunities for working together or sharing.
    Purchasing consortia – certainly not new but of continuing excellent value. In Scotland, academic libraries have benefitted from consortia for book and journal supply for many years which, for books, has increased spending power by about 20% on average.
    In the public library sector, Scotland Excel, working on behalf of local authorities, is currently evaluating offers for two contracts, one for the supply and delivery of library books and the other for the supply and delivery of textbooks.  The purchasing strategies for both contracts were developed by Scotland Excel with all stakeholders. Estimated savings over the contract(2 years) are about £1.4m, which is cash and value added savings included
    Most local authority library services already source from the same wholesalers and this represents 75% of total library resource fund spending. The aim of the contract is to maximise the discounts that could be achieved through collaborative purchasing equitably across Scotland.  
    No supplier will have a monopoly within the Scottish library sector as there will be scope to order outside of the contract where required.  Any material or services that are not available from contracted suppliers can be ordered from alternative sources. The contract also includes a provision for value-added service services such as showroom visits, author events, book fairs and training.  These will continue to be managed at local level, and there are no restrictions on the provision of these services by suppliers of specialist materials that fall outside of the scope of the contract.  
    SHEDL is the most recent consortia and, works with JISC Collections to make deals with specific e-content suppliers for all Scottish HE institutions. Under SHEDL negotiations are undertaken with specific agreed suppliers on behalf of all Scottish HE institutions. A Scotland-wide target price is set and deals stand or fall on whether the suppliers can meet the target price. The big winners are those institutions that gain access to more content for the same amount they currently pay…or, indeed, those institutions that gain access to all the content for free.
    Not everyone wins on specific titles though. Some of the larger institutions can end up paying more for the same amount of content. Thus while the sector as a whole can benefit on a cost versus content basis, some individual universities will bite the bullet of increased costs and, in today’s climate, this example of “taking one for the team” is less likely to happen.
    Supplier Data - Shelf-ready books - Providing shelf-ready books primarily comprises of two components: Book processing to individual Customer needs and Cataloguing through standard or customised catalogue records. Shelf ready is acknowledged by Coutts as their fastest growing areas of business – providing libraries with significant time and cost savings…as long as
    We don’t then check every single item!
    Governance: Outsourcing - largely by budget restrictions but in some cases by the desire of some local authorities to become strategic commissioners of services rather than direct providers. While interest among public libraries in alternative methods is strong, to date only two of the 151 library services in England have been placed in charitable trusts (Luton Cultural Services Trust) and one contracted to a private sector company (John Laing Integrated Services, the company holding the contract to provide the library service in the London Borough of Hounslow). However, as local government finances become subject to increasing pressure, the number of Councils opting for some form of alternative governance is expected to grow.
    I know this is an area that a number of authorities in Scotland are looking at and, of course, Glasgow’s libraries have been part of a charitable trust since 2007.
    Shared Services – Scottish Digital Library Consortium, of which several University libraries are in membership, helps institutions build their digital library using best-of-breed tools drawn from a variety of suppliers and open source solutions. Thus negating need for staff expertise.
    Shared stores – Co-operative Academic Store Scotland paved the way for the UK Research Reserve which allows universities to dispose of low use research material confident that 3 copies will be retained somewhere in the UK including 1 copy at the BL which will be used as the access copy.
    Estimated capital and recurrent cost savings from print rationalisation have been calculated for the UK Research Reserve (UKRR). In Phase One of UKRR eight Higher Education libraries released over 11,000 metres of shelving through coordinated de-duplication. The estimated recurrent estates savings from Phase One (if the space were released and reused in another activity) are £481,000 per annum. The capital value of the space released is calculated as £5million on this same basis.
    UKRR is now in Phase Two, and is continuing its work building a sustainable national research collection. Having received funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for five years, it has the target of releasing 100,000m of shelf space by the end of 2013. To date (June 2010) in Phase 2 15,000m of material has been de-duplicated, with a capital cost saving £4.5million and a recurrent estate costs saving of £434,000 per annum.
    Future Libraries Programme: see separate sheet
    Shared Space -
  • Staffing resources need to focus on those areas that have the biggest impact: speedy delivery of information and services that meet the needs of our customers.
    Reductions in staffing levels must therefore be based on increased understanding of the relationships between activities, costs and impact; and combined with more effective performance management.
    Cost-consciousness needs to be embedded in library cultures to drive forward process improvements.
    Need for library staff to have a clear understanding of their roles and a willingness to develop new skills.
    Empower: to do more, make decisions, create ideas.
    Multi-skill: so staff can work front and back of house.
    one-stop shop concept.
    Experiment: try things out. If they don’t work…no problem. Don’t be afraid of failure.
    Fit for purpose: library schools must ensure they’re producing people with the skills we need.
    yes, use volunteers, but they are not low-cost option!
    make sure your job descriptions are foolproof. Tighten your “essentials” and “desirables” to make sure the right candidates are short-listed.
    Listen to customers: your greatest allies and advocates
    don’t forget your service is for them…not you!
  • Referring to Tim Coates’ comments about the dangers of squeezing a variety of other public and social services into library space…
    There is a danger that the primary purpose of the library is overlooked and the function and service declines accordingly.
    However, multi-functionality will work in a space that has been properly planned.
    In the academic sector, the groundbreaking was done by the Saltire Centre which brought together under one roof a number of student support services.
    Examples in the local authority sector include:
    The newly modernised Pollock Civic Realm in Glasgow.
    The £10million project brings together seven partner agencies in the new facility.
    The building houses Glasgow Club Pollok, new Pollok Library and Learning Centre, Pollok Kist, a Café, Greater Pollok Citizens Advice Bureau, South West Stress Centre, employment services delivered by the Glasgow South West Regeneration Agency, and the refurbished and expanded Health Centre. "The new complex is an excellent example of several agencies coming together to provide a one stop shop that will serve the needs of the local area on many levels including their health and well-being and also their recreational and community needs."
    the proposed new Drumbrae Library and Day Care Centre in Edinburgh
    state of the art new library, community space, meeting rooms, computers, and easy access to other Council services. Built at the heart of a local community of some 30,000 residents.
    Local people consulted on facilities and services during planning stage.
  • Paradigm shift = change in basic assumptions; a change in thinking from an accepted point of view to a new belief.
    Salami slicing no good.
    Opportunity to redefine role of library.
    Rudolph sacrificed so other reindeer can live!
  • Building authenticity as a manager is crucial for these difficult times.
    Here are some pointers to make you remain credible as a manager.
    Reality check: it’s about letting who you are on the inside come through. No hiding behind management speak.
    It’s also about using intuition and emotional intelligence.
    Role model: by being a positive role model you gain respect and enhance self-belief.
    Communicative: one of most important qualities is to communicate effectively. This is key to engaging and building a rapport.
    Be positive: individuals who are optimistic and think positively gain more support from others.
    Embrace change: change is inevitable and vital for the health of an organisation. Idea is to change before you have to! If change is a word people are resistant to use “flexibility” instead.
    Do the right thing: honesty is not the best policy, it’s the only policy.
    One for all and all for one: being part of a group and contributing to it gains respect. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness nut is a great strength.
  • Managing in Hard Times

    1. 1. Managing in Hard Times Chris Pinder Director of Learning Information Services Edinburgh Napier University & CILIPS President 2010
    2. 2. Overview 1. It’s the economy, stupid 2. Crisis, what crisis? 3. Yes, we can!
    3. 3. Part 1: It’s the economy, stupid
    4. 4. Pressure on Public Services • Comprehensive Spending Review • Scottish Draft Budget 2011-12 • Efficiency • Strategy • Accountability
    5. 5. Impact on Libraries • Library in wider organisation • Library users as consumers • Libraries in media spotlight
    6. 6. Part 2: Crisis, what crisis?
    7. 7. Library advocacy • Use of public libraries • Student satisfaction • Funders’ view of libraries
    8. 8. Know your enemy • Public libraries • Academic libraries • Suppliers
    9. 9. Part 3: Yes. We can!
    10. 10. Guiding principles • Stick to the knitting • Outlaw perfection • Maximise resources • Don’t help those who can help themselves • Share
    11. 11. Working in partnership • Purchasing consortia • Supplier data • Governance • Shared services • Shared space
    12. 12. The human element • Empower • Multi-skill • Experiment • Fit for purpose • Listen to customers
    13. 13. Multi-purpose place • Attractive environment • People want to use
    14. 14. Don’t waste a good crisis! • Paradigm shift • Redefining role
    15. 15. The good manager in hard times • Reality check • Role model • Communicate • Be positive • Embrace change • Do the right thing • One for all and all for one!
    16. 16. If all else fails… Dance!
    17. 17. Picture attributions • Bronson: GaPony WDTV • Clinton: Public Domain • Callaghan: Archival Research Catalog Identifier 178479 • Obama: GNU Free Documentation License • RBS £20 note: lusobrandane (flickr) • Torture: Sean Svadilfari (flickr) • Libraries poster: GeoShore (John Kirriemuir) flickr • Libraries demo: • Vote for libraries: American Library Association • G men: Ebenezer (Picasaweb) • Pushing car: Omega Man (flickr) • Newton’s cradle: DemonDeLuxe (Dominique Toussaint) GNU Free Documentation License • UN flags: Slobodan Kovrlija (Wikimedia) • Lego people: Joe Shlabotnik (flcikr) • Library Pub: Thor Dekov Buur (flickr) • Santa/reindeer: cartoonist Gatis Šļūka; photo Helmuts (flickr) • Superman: Xurble (Gareth Simpson) (flickr) • Furious dancing: