How to cut library spending without cutting libraries?

The video below is a clip of Tim Coates, the ex CEO of Waterstones. Being a councillor in a Borough where spending reductions need to be made, the video makes a very interesting watch.

Mr Coates spoke to an audience of residents and councillors on the Isle of Wight about how to cut library spending without cutting libraries.

Mr Coates successfully takes out 35% of the cost of running libraries by giving local libraries greater autonomy and taking out several layers of the management structure at the town hall and allowing the wholesaler to distribute the books to each library rather than the books having to go via the council, thereby increasing cost.  He presents, it would seem a much more simplified version of managing libraries and at a much greater level of value for money.  

Mr Coates presents a typical management structure where the chain starts with library staff flowing up nine layers until we eventually get to the councillor. He strips the layers of management down to just four, and rather the chain ends with individual library managers.  Mr Coates says:

‘Arrangements should be made with library suppliers so that each individual library orders and receives its own shelf ready supplies …Each library should be given access to several suppliers

With this new arrangement each library manager should be free to decide what to order, how to handle reservations and when to arrange transfers from other libraries.

Their budget will be allocated monthly and they will have the responsibility to their own local community for providing for and meeting their needs.

The library manager is also free to manage the staff budget and arrange opening hours to suit the local community, the use of volunteers and other outreach activities.’

These seem sensible ideas and is the sort of thinking which is needed up and down the country in these harsh economic times.  This successful individual proves that cuts can be made without affecting the provision of services.

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Filed under Big Society, Southend, Video

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