Annual report April 2011-March 2012
In the year under review, despite the impact of the first of three significant cuts in the grant from Salford City Council and the completion of the Heritage Lottery Fund project, the Library's staff, volunteers, Friends and supporters have ensured it has been one of growth and achievement against the odds. There has been a continuing increase in the numbers of users and visitors, in links with other organisations and the wider community, in use of social and other media, in meeting key areas of the 2011 Development Plan and in implementing fundraising strategies to ensure the long-term future of this unique, much-loved collection.
Donations, both secured and non-secured, were considerably above budget. The grant from Salford City Council was cut by £4,000 to which can be added the loss of the MP's rent. Interest continues to be affected by low rates.
In addition to the extremely generous response from Friends and supporters, two significant donations were received. The UNITE Chloride Branch gave £7,000 of its closing funds which will be used to create a friendly drop-in space for people who want to start exploring the range of materials held in the Library. The second donation of £1,000 was from the Martin and Blanche Flannery estate.
The excellent graphic design services of Mike Carter for a day a week, which were generously funded by Stocks Solicitors, formally ended in December 2011 - though Mike has been generous with his time on the Library's behalf since.
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND PROJECT - ‘The Past Meets the Present'
The project finally ended on 30th June 2011 and Jane Taylor, previously funded by HLF as Project Librarian, took up a one-year contract with the Library.
Ceramics Room/Annexe: Two welcome developments were funded by project under-spend; A ground floor room previously used by the MP was rewired, decorated and fitted with 3 display cases. It now houses a changing display of the Library's extensive ceramics collection. The Annexe, which was decorated by volunteers in February 2011 to celebrate Robert Tressell's centenary, had a carpet, blinds and kitchen units fitted and is now available for community use.
Amiel and Melburn Trust - Kevin Morgan was successful in obtaining a further grant of £1,492 from the Trust to fund Constantin Davidescu's cataloguing of the Frow Archive.
Business in the Arts - The North-West Regional Office funded David Seaman, a retired Co-operative Group manager, to work with a group of Organising Committee members and volunteers to identify ways of raising the Library's profile and of increasing income. Whilst most of the action points identified were in line with the current Development Plan and the Fundraising Strategy agreed at the Annual Trustees' Meeting in April 2011, social media was identified as a neglected area. Lynette Cawthra and Jen Morgan agreed to increase the Library's presence across social media.
With the current difficult employment situation, there is a full quota of 50 volunteers and a ‘waiting list' of people seeking experience in a work setting. Every effort is made by Jane and Lynette to match volunteers' interests and enthusiasms to the Library's needs.
An updated Volunteers' Handbook has been developed by Veronica Trick, Jane Taylor and Mike Carter.
Jen Morgan, the first of the three Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded PhD students jointly appointed by the Library and Salford University, was joined by Matthew Kavanagh in October. Jen is currently spending one day a week as a volunteer.
The monthly volunteers' lunches followed by talks on aspects of the Library's collection by staff and volunteers continue to be well supported.
Lynette Cawthra, our enthusiastic and extremely capable Library Manager, was joined in April by Tara Sutton, Library Assistant and in June by Jane Taylor, Librarian. Tara and Jane were initially appointed on 12-month contracts but with the steady increase in donations, the Organising Committee decided on the recommendation of the Treasurer to offer them permanent posts. Tara undertakes a number of administrative tasks, deals with readers and helps with the Friends and fundraising. She is invariably helpful and cheerful and has proved to be a great asset. Jane, in addition to taking responsibility for running the Library if Lynette is away, continues to catalogue our ever-growing collection, and oversees conservation and the work of volunteers. Like Tara, Jane has proved to be a very valuable addition to the Library staff.
The team is completed by Alain Kahan, our ‘retired' Librarian who continues to work two half days a week and Jan Walker, our long-suffering cleaner.
RAISING THE PROFILE OF THE LIBRARY
Exhibitions - The Manchester and Salford Film Society's Exhibition which celebrated the 80th anniversary of what is now the country's oldest film society continued until July. The Library holds the Society's archive.
An unusual exhibition followed in July when Amy Feneck, an artist linked to Islington Mill, presented ‘Versuche', a wide-ranging, idiosyncratic selection of items from the Library's collection and her response to them.
Briefly in November an exhibition put together by print workers and trade unionists, ‘The News International Dispute: 25 Years On' and a linked meeting were held.
This was followed by a Peace Exhibition highlighting some of our extensive collection and using some of the display materials developed by Mike Carter.
In January our most successful exhibition was mounted. It was on the Clarion Movement and highlighted some of our wide-ranging collection. This, plus accompanying events, formed our contribution to the Manchester Histories Festival.
Events - The second Frow Memorial Lecture, ‘Building a Culture of Peace', was given by Bruce Kent. It was again held in the Council Chamber at the Old Fire Station, courtesy of Salford University and was attended by 99 people.
In April the Library was again invited by the Mayor of Salford to host a visit by the Mayors and the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester
Two short series of ‘Invisible Histories' talks held in the summer and autumn were well attended, attracting a high proportion of local people.
Two Manchester WEA courses on ‘Socialist Theatre' were held in the autumn and winter terms in the Annexe. The first ended with a lively agit-prop happening devised by the students.
To celebrate Black History Month in October, Marika Sherwood spoke on Malcolm Xs visit to Manchester.
In the weeks before Christmas, the Strawberry Thieves Choir and the Bailey Sisters generously gave concerts to help with fundraising.
Three highly successful events were held in conjunction with our Clarion Exhibition: a cycle rally which started at the People's History Museum and moved up to the Library for a delicious Clarion Tea; a concert given by the Bolton and East Lancashire Clarion Choirs alongside a talk by Denis Pye; and a talk by Deborah Mutch on ‘Robert Blatchford's Road to Socialism'.
In February a talk by Clare Debenham on Eleanor Rathbone was held to mark Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender History Month, and in March talks by Nicola Wilson on Ethel Carnie Holdsworth and Karen Bosson on current trade union struggles celebrated International Women's Day.
Social Media - Over 1,000 people now receive the Library's e-newsletter produced by Lynette. Friends on Facebook have increased over the last year by 40% to well over 1,200 and followers on Twitter have multiplied nearly sixfold to nearly 650.
The Battle of Bexley Square was "recreated" on Twitter to mark its 80th anniversary. The Library's use of social media resulted in a spectacular success in the national Museums at Night contest, where the public were asked to vote online for institutions to ‘win' an artist to participate in an event. The Library drummed up support via Twitter and Facebook and ‘won' acclaimed photographer Simon Roberts with 74% of the vote in a three-horse race.
The ‘blog' developed by Jane continues to be well-used by volunteers and staff. It now carries reviews of new books sent by publishers to the Library.
Stalls - With the help of volunteers, stalls were held at the Wortley Hall Open Weekend, Ordsall Summer Festival, Salford Local History Fair, ‘Building the Truce' peace event at the Imperial War Museum North, two PCS ‘Learning at Work' events, the PCS Youth Conference, Unison National Conference and the Manchester Histories Festival event at Manchester Town Hall.
Publicity - The Library has been featured on BBC TV's ‘North West Tonight' and Radio Manchester, in The Guardian online edition, Tate Magazine, Big Issue in the North, Manchester Evening News and Salford Advertiser, and in online features on Web sites such as Creative Tourist, Manchester Mule, Mancunian Matters and Salford Star.
Illustrated talks on the work of the Library have been given to two local organisations and at two conferences at the University of Salford.
As a result of our success in raising our profile, reader numbers in the first quarter of 2012 were at record levels.
The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to the staff, volunteers, Friends and other active supporters for their contribution to the continuing work of the Library and for ensuring that we continue to be fresh and innovative whilst maintaining high standards.
The first year of our fundraising appeal to enable the Library to withstand the cuts in our grant from Salford City Council has been encouraging. However, we have to raise more to cover the increasing cuts next year and in the years until we have a new Government with more equable policies. Above all, the Trustees are determined to everything in their power to ensure the long-term future of the Library's unique and priceless collection we hold in trust.