ANNUAL REPORT April 2009-March 2010
The year under review has been one of growth and achievement for the Library. Income was a little down but with careful management of expenses, the demand on reserves has only increased marginally. The outstanding contribution of both staff and volunteers has resulted in a considerable increase in users and visitors, increased links with other organisations and the local community and excellent progress in the Heritage Lottery Fund Project and the Library's Development Plans.
The loss of John Smethurst, our last remaining founding trustee, has cast a shadow over these achievements. John was heavily involved with Eddie and Ruth Frow in setting up the Trust. He worked untiringly for the Library despite declining health. He will be greatly missed.
We can report another steady year in financial terms. Out total expenditure of £86,000 was slightly lower than anticipated, due to the Trust managing to secure grant aid for improved access work to the rear of the premises and other planned projects taking longer than expected to materialise.
Income from donations seems to be settling down to around £37,000 a year, which means, in percentage terms, just over 40% of our required annual income comes from donations and a slightly larger amount from Salford City Council's grant. The shortfall is made up of sales and services, but mainly by drawing off our reserves.
The City Council grant is not index linked and our reserves, whilst healthy, are finite so we must constantly be looking to expand our support and donation base.
In addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund Project grant, we have been successful in bids for smaller projects. We received £9,320 from the National Lottery's Awards for All Scheme and the Lipman Milliband Trust for work relating to the Thomas Paine Exhibition, £6,650 from The Booth Charities to fund a facilitator for the ‘Invisible Histories: Salford's Working Lives' exhibition; and a total of £6,107 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council for a joint project, ‘Green Bananas', with Ordsall Community Arts, as well as for developing learning links with teachers.
We continue to benefit from the graphic design services of Mike Carter financed by a generous donation from a firm of local solicitors.
We drew off approximately £7,500 from reserves this year towards our core funding, and a further £12,000 towards our Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Past Meets the Present' Project to which we are committed to making a £30,000 contribution, so there will be further inroads into reserves during the coming year.
All in all our financial position is healthy, but there is no room for complacency.
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 local people. We are delighted increasingly to have visitors arrive requesting items which have just been put on the online catalogue Adlib - items they would not have known we held until the HLF funding made them visible to the world.
Project staff: Kate Hart, Project Archivist; Jane Taylor, Project Librarian; Caroline Hunt, Community Learning Co-ordinator.
Kate has made considerable progress on the cataloguing of our archive collections, adding them to the Archives Hub Web site and linking them to the National Register of Archives (at The National Archives) to give us a wider presence nationally and internationally.
The storage of box files, the Frow Archive and several trade union collections has been reorganised to make a more rational and efficient use of space. Items to be sorted have been identified and new accession procedures have been introduced to prevent a large backlog developing.
Work in progress includes: cataloguing the fabric collection; sorting, listing, repackaging and photographing the poster collection prior to it going online; writing collection level descriptions to put online summaries of the contents of boxes in the cellar; and commencing the digitisation of the photograph collection.
Jane has continued work on cataloguing the books and pamphlets, fleshing out the lists created over the years by our stalwart volunteers and importing the information into our online catalogue including the Labour Party, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain pamphlets. The work of integrating the old Frow pamphlet collection into the main pamphlet sequence, which now spans two rooms in the cellar, is almost complete. Major subjects that have been imported, but which have not yet been fully catalogued include Women, Trotskyism and Peace - a volunteer has started work on the Women's pamphlets. The TUC pamphlet collection will shortly be imported into Adlib and work is about to commence listing the Co-operative Movement and USSR pamphlet collections.
Caroline worked with local primary schools whilst developing the ‘Victorian Children at Work' learning resource pack using library material. Nearly 100 CDs have been distributed to teachers locally and nationally, and there has been much positive feedback from those who have downloaded the packs from the Library's Web site.
Salford Council's Secondary Teaching and Learning Consultant Steve Illingworth has been tremendously supportive in helping us create links with secondary schools in the area. He has hosted several study days at the Library for local history teachers. Caroline has now completed six resource packs for secondary schools, which are downloadable from our Web site. They were developed in consultation with Salford history teachers and cover areas and subjects where there is a shortage of information for teachers to use, but where our collection is strong and unique. They also include audio files with actors Maxine Peake and James Quinn reading aloud from elements of the collection, which helps to bring it to life and is particularly helpful for learners of lower ability. We hope too they will be of interest to everyone visiting our Web site.
Three films were made in local schools linked to our Thomas Paine exhibition using professional film-makers and funded by the National Lottery Awards for All Scheme. They are now available on our Web site and have been featured on the Association of Citizenship Teachers Web site. We are currently developing marketing strategies to further disseminate these resources.
Work is now underway in partnership with UNISON to develop learning opportunities (via web/in person, etc) for adults. UNISON has a regional education team who deliver activities to a large number of people, but is keen to develop its online learning provision.
A ‘pop-up' display banner was developed by Lynette Cawthra and Mike Carter in conjunction with FC United of Manchester to mark the centenary last year of ‘The Outcasts' when the Manchester United team refused to give up their union membership, putting their careers in jeopardy. The Professional Footballers' Association kindly provided access to images.
On-line Cataloguing System/Web site - The Adlib cataloguing system has continued to throw up problems with its search capabilities; most of these have been successfully addressed in detailed negotiations with the suppliers.
Audience Development - Library usage has increased considerably with reader numbers growing by 50% and visitors to our ground floor exhibitions and on Library tours having increased fourfold. The fortnightly talks linked to the Invisible Histories exhibition have consistently attracted a large audience.
In addition to ‘Shelf Life', the quarterly newsletter for the Library's 580 individual friends and 300 trade union supporters, we now have an excellent e-newsletter developed by Lynette which is circulated to 340 people. We also have a'blog' developed by Jane which is accessed via our Web site and a presence on Facebook with over 400 people signed up as ‘fans'. We are in the process of developing strategies to shape future events, activities, etc. by consulting our users, friends and volunteers. A skilled survey designer has volunteered to assist us.
Review of Policies and Procedures - A programme for the regular review of policies and procedures has been agreed and work has commenced.
Security of the Collection, Staff and Users - New procedures to improve the security of the collection are in place for users of the Reading Room and tours of the Library. CCTV cameras will be fitted to the outside of the building. A grant of £1,000 towards the cost has been offered from Salford City Council. A panic alarm has been installed in the Entrance Hall. The Library has passed its latest Fire Inspection and we are currently complying with advice received from the City of Salford Health and Safety Officer.
Improvements - Salford City Council has undertaken extensive repairs to the roof and guttering and has resurfaced the paths and car park. The Library has purchased 50 new folding chairs for use in the NALGO Room. The historic but bulky and uncomfortable Clarion Club chairs have been spread throughout upper rooms.
Publications - In July we published ‘From Manchester to Spain' by Bernard Barry which drew on our extensive International Brigade archive. ‘Marx in Manchester' by Eddie and Ruth Frow has been reprinted. A postcard and poster featuring our Reading Independent Labour Party banner have been added to those already on sale.
Our permanent staff, Lynette Cawthra and Michael Weaver, and our HLF staff, Jane Taylor, Kate Hart and Caroline Hunt, continue to do excellent work. Alain Kahan, our retired Librarian has come in for two half days a week and Jan Walker, our cleaner, continues to tolerate our untidiness.
Mike Weaver, our Library Assistant, plans to leave for Cambridge in the summer. He has an extensive knowledge of the collection, a great enthusiasm for working class history and a good sense of humour. We, and our readers, will miss him.
We have 46 active volunteers and are regularly contacted by recent graduates seeking work experience to enrich their CVs. Every effort is made to develop volunteers' skills and to match their interests to the Library's needs.
The exhibitions in the Entrance Hall are open to the public three afternoons a week and a rota of volunteers welcome visitors. Alain Kahan provides induction training for ‘welcomers'.
The monthly volunteers' lunches are well supported followed by talks on aspects of our collections by staff and volunteers. Regular theatre visits are now being organised.
RAISING THE PROFILE OF THE LIBRARY
Exhibitions - ‘Voice of the Common People', the Thomas Paine bicentenary exhibition at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery was launched in September by social historian Dorothy Thompson. It was an outstanding exhibition which drew on the Library's Paine collection.
The exhibition ‘Invisible Histories: Salford's Working Lives' in the NALGO Room was opened in January by the Mayor of Salford. It was compiled by local people from the Library's extensive Salford materials with the assistance of Lawrence Cassidy, a community artist, who was funded by a grant from the Booth Charities. A series of fortnightly talks which have accompanied the exhibition began in January and will run into the late summer.
The Library lent items to the following exhibitions: ‘Art and Labour's Cause is One', Walter Crane at Manchester's Whitworth Gallery; ‘Procession' at Manchester Cornerhouse; ‘Rank' at Sunderland Art Gallery/Leeds/Blackpool.
Events - In May Salford University Drama students researched, devised and performed a play about Eddie and Ruth Frow and the founding of the Library, ‘Working Progress'. It was a delightful and moving event.
In late May, the Independent Labour Party unveiled a commemorative plaque to members who fought in Spain 1936-9 and launched a book on ILP volunteers by Christopher Hall.
Bernard Barry's book ‘From Manchester to Spain' was launched in July with Republican songs, La Pasionaria's Farewell to the International Brigade and a stirring speech by Bernard.
Black History Month was marked with a talk, ‘Remembering Refugees', by Tony Kushner. The 25th anniversary of the Miners' Strike was commemorated with a very well attended talk on the media and the miners by Granville Williams and a personal account by striker Paul Kelly. An afternoon of poetry and song for friends and volunteers was held in December. A talk on the Bolton Whitmanites was given by Harry Cocks during LGBT History Month in February and Sarah Irving and Linda Clair spoke on women and politics to mark International Women's Day. Living Library story-telling events, developed with UNISON, were held prior to the miners' and IWD talks.
An adult group of informal learners at Ordsall Community Arts used resources from the Library about Salford Docks to create a piece of theatre, ‘Green Bananas', as part of their annual Lighting the Legend community celebration in November. This MLA-funded project aimed to open up the Library and its resources to local people who had never visited us before.
We were pleased to be invited by Salford City Council to host a formal visit by Mayors from across Greater Manchester in April.
Stalls/talks - The Library had stalls at the Salford Local History Day in September, the Manchester Irish Conferences in September and April, and at the Women's TUC Conference in November. Lynette spoke to the Rotary Club of Manchester in November, and they have subsequently offered to mark their forthcoming centenary by paying for some rebinding work for us.
Open Days - The Library held an Open Weekend in April, which was fairly well attended, and was open for two Sundays in September (the first as part of the Heritage Open Day Weekend and the second in conjunction with Salford's Local History Day). On both these latter occasions the attendance was disappointing.
Publicity - Mike Carter has designed a new Library leaflet and a pop-up display banner for use at exhibitions and events. A board about the Library is now on display at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, encouraging people to come over the road and visit.
We looked after the microfilm collection of the Labour History Archive for ten months to maintain its availability to researchers it was closed prior to its move to the new Pump House site.
The Library has featured on various occasions over the year in the Manchester Evening News and the Salford Advertiser. Ian Macmillan visited the Outcasts exhibition and wrote a piece in the Guardian, ‘A forgotten part of Manchester United's history', in October. We continue our regular page in LifeTime Links, Salford Museum and Art Gallery's quarterly newsletter. An article by Caroline and Lynette on marketing and outreach was published in ALISS Quarterly, the journal for information professional in the social sciences, and Lynette's job was profiled in the librarians' main professional journal CILIP Gazette in August.
The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to the staff, volunteers, friends and other supporters for their contribution to this outstanding year.