ANNUAL REPORT 2008-2009
The year under review has been one of change and achievement for the Library. Income has been maintained, expenditure prudently managed and the demand on reserves kept within target. Above all, the outstanding contribution of our staff and volunteers has ensured a high standard of service to users and excellent progress with our Heritage Lottery Fund Project.
Once again the support of our friends and supporters has exceeded all expectations with over £41,000 being received in donations. We are also grateful, of course, for the continuing support of Salford City Council with its annual grant of just under £40,000. Our total expenditure £91,000 did, however, mean that we had to draw on about £6,000 from our reserves. Thankfully, because of bequests we have sound reserves which, if used moderately, will support the library for many years to come.
We were all saddened by the sudden death of our co-founder Ruth Frow in January of last year. Her love of the library was well in the forefront of her thoughts when she prepared her will and we gained £33,000 from her estate. She can be assured that we will use it wisely in the best interest of her library.
Altogether a positive year that gives much encouragement for the future stability of the library.
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND PROJECT ‘The Past meets the Present'
The focus of the project is to make our collections more accessible to new audiences, particularly people in the local area.
Three Project Staff - Kate Hart, Project Archivist, Caroline Hunt, Community Learning Co-ordinator and Jane Taylor, Project Librarian - were appointed and took up post in the summer.
Kate has started cataloguing the Library's archival material, which has never been indexed in detail before. She has started with our trade union material, and has developed Web pages to encourage people to make use of it. She leads the Conservation Programme and trains volunteers.
Caroline is working with a local primary school to develop learning resources linked to Key Stage 2 using the Library's collection, and which are being made available on our Web site. She has had an initial meeting with local secondary school teachers to plan developing similar programmes for Key Stage 3.
Jane is cataloguing the Library's large pamphlet collection, has developed a thesaurus so that items can be systematically subject indexed, and is training volunteers to get bibliographic material ready to be added to the online catalogue.
The online cataloguing system, Web site and ICT network have been completely updated. The Ad Lib system, which catalogues both ‘library' and ‘archive' materials and is ‘user-friendly', has been installed. IChameleon, a Manchester-based company, has developed a new content management system-driven Web site which was launched in January. The ICT system has also been updated with the installation of new cabling, PCs and server - all our PCs are now connected to each other via a network, and all work is backed up each evening.
The Entrance Hall and NALGO Room have been redecorated, display cases installed and exhibitions mounted with displays in the hall reflecting the diversity of the Library's collection and in the NALGO Room marking the centenary of the first payment of Old Age Pensions. These together with the Web site were launched by Tony Benn in January.
These spaces are now open to the public without appointment three afternoons a week, with a volunteer on duty to welcome visitors.
Monitoring of the project is undertaken by the Steering Committee with representatives from other library services and the Audience Development Group led by Janice Tullock, our HLF-appointed mentor.
Rolling stacks have now been installed in three of our cellar rooms, in each case doubling the shelf capacity available in the space. This has enabled us to bring together in an organised way a lot of material which was previously held in different parts of the library.
We have been pleased to loan material to the Whitworth Art Gallery, for their Walter Crane exhibition, to Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland for their show ‘Rank: picturing the social order 1516-2009'.
Our copy of the Nelson Gazette (very rare - not held in British Library) has been microfilmed by Microform Academic Publishers - we have a copy which we can use instead of the original to avoid wear and tear. It will also be available on the Web (password protected).
The Library's permanent staff (Lynette Cawthra, Library Manager, and Mike Weaver, Library Assistant) continue to make a significant contribution. In addition we have been fortunate to retain the services of Alain Kahan, our past librarian on a one day a week contract during the year. We now have an outstanding staff team with the two permanent members of staff, the three project staff and our retired librarian combining to raise the quality of service the Library provides and to meet the demands of the HLF Project.
The number of volunteers has risen to 44; we have seen a number of younger volunteers keen to join us this year, as the need for an enriched cv becomes ever more important for people hoping to start out in work. We are focusing on ensuring we match their requirements with the Library's own needs.
The monthly volunteers' lunches continue to be well supported. A celebratory one was held in December with refreshments being provided by the Library to thank staff and volunteers for their work. Talks on aspects of the Library collection are given after the lunch.
Many of our long-standing volunteers have received ‘100 hours of volunteering' certificates from Salford Volunteer Centre.
The four new volunteers who welcome visitors on the open afternoons have been trained and ‘back up' is provided by three trustees.
The number of Friends held steady when annual subscriptions were raised and have since increased to 530 individual friends and 300 trade union supporters. ‘Shelf Life', the Library's newsletter for Friends continues to be produced quarterly.
RAISING THE PROFILE OF THE LIBRARY
Events. There have been two outstanding events since the last AGM in March 2008. The first was ‘A Celebration of the Life of Ruth Frow' in April. Hundreds of friends filled Peel Hall to hear speeches, songs and poetry in memory of Ruth. The second was the launch of our new exhibition space and Web site by Tony Benn in January.
Other events were a well-attended performance of ‘Fair Trade' by the Mikron Theatre Company in September and a talk on CLR James to mark Black History Month in October.
Exhibitions. A ‘Movements for Peace' Exhibition with accompanying workshops was held from late November to January at Salford Museum and Art Gallery to mark the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It was opened by Kate Hudson, Chair of CND and the Mayor of Salford and was organised jointly with a small group of Friends of the Library, Salford University, North-West CND and Urbis.
Stalls. The Library has had stalls at a number of events: Salford Local History Day; Manchester Irish Conference; the NUT Easter Conference, and the Manchester Histories Festival.
Open Days. The Library was open for both days of the Heritage Open Day Weekend in September and on 24 and 25 January to mark the opening of our refurbished Entrance Hall & NALGO Room. Another open weekend is planned for April. To date over 150 visitors have attended.
Press and Publicity. Our January Open Days were afforded features in the Manchester Evening News and the Salford Advertiser. We now have a regular page in LifeTime Links, Salford Museum and Art Gallery's quarterly newsletter. The Library's collections featured in Cambridge University Libraries' Information Bulletin in autumn 2008.
The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to our staff, volunteers, friends and other supporters.