ANNUAL REPORT April 2012 - March 2013
It is heartening to report significant progress in the year under review despite the impact of on-going cuts in the Library's grant from Salford City Council. The award of funding for two new projects has further raised the Library's public profile as well as enabling the appointment of additional members of staff and the expansion and training of volunteers. There has been a substantial increase in the number of readers, extension in the use of social and other media, and achievement in meeting the key areas of the Library's Development Plan for 2012.
However, the rate of increase in income from donations has slowed indicating the need to keep our fundraising strategies under review.
Overall income from donations met our budget target. Salford City Council has made the second of the three planned cuts in its grant. Interest receipts continue to be affected by the low rates on offer.
In addition to the continuing generous support from individual friends and organisations, the Library has benefitted from two larger donations by long-standing supporters. Peter McCourt bequeathed a share of his estate which amounted to £130,000, and the family of former Trustee, John Smethurst, gave £5,000 in his memory.
The Library's garden benefitted from a grant of £140 as part of Salford's ‘Secret Gardens Festival'.
USAGE OF THE LIBRARY
A cause for celebration is the major increase in reader numbers - up from 417 in 2011 (and a similar 374 in 2010) to 672 during 2012, with totals for the first quarter of 2013 also staying high. The amount of material now visible to the world via our online catalogue means readers are requesting to see large numbers of obscure items previously hidden away, maybe in the cellar or attic. It is pleasing to see so many different aspects of our collection being used so thoroughly by such a wide range of people - from youth theatre groups to academics from Japan, and from Catalan school students to community arts practitioners.
We gave over 200 people tours of the Library in 2012, including BBC Libraries staff from Media City, various University of the Third Age groups, and theatre students from the University of Manchester. Over 700 people came to Library events (details of which are given below) during 2012, up 20% on the previous year.
The building continues to be used for meetings (the annexe has been hired by trade unions and academics, and by a Workers' Educational Association theatre course) and by film-makers, this year including Ken Loach.
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND - ‘Invisible Histories` project
In June the Library was awarded £35,000 for an 18-month project which involves collecting the oral histories of people who worked in three ‘lost' Salford workplaces: Richard Haworth's cotton mill, Ward and Goldstone's electrical engineering company, and Agecroft Colliery. A part-time learning co-ordinator, Carrie Gough, joined the Library in August and 20 volunteers started training to interview people who had been employed in the three workplaces. In November Carrie left for a permanent post and Neil Dymond-Green was appointed to continue and develop the work on the project. Tapes of the interviews are being augmented by material from our own and other local collections to make visible the stories of Salford's working lives. Links are being made with local organisations including community arts groups and local residents' associations, and Neil has been very successful in having papers about the project accepted for presentation at conferences later this year. By completion of the project it is planned that a podcast will be developed by a group of local young people in the spirit of Ewan MacColl's 1950s Radio Ballads, an exhibition will be held in the Library, and edited recordings will be available on the ‘listening station' in the hall and on our Web site.
ESMEE FAIRBAIRN COLLECTIONS FUND - ‘Unlocking Ideas Worth Fighting For` project
In September the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund awarded the People's History Museum and the Library £47,033 for a partnership project - ‘Unlocking Ideas Worth Fighting For' - which is starting to make links between the collections of the People's History Museum, the Labour History Archive and ourselves. A project co-ordinator, Chris Burgess, has been appointed for 20 months to identify and flag up complementary materials to help people to know more about the three collections and be enthused to investigate them further. He has made an excellent start in unearthing gems from the Library's collection, for example, the original notes made by a Peterloo magistrate, and his skill in linking current news stories to historical events included a blog entry highlighting evidence of horse meat being processed into sausages in Newton Heath in the mid-nineteenth century. A label for a Socialist Sunday School banner recently put on display at the People's History Museum encourages visitors to come to WCML and see our own East Bradford Socialist Sunday School banner, and a QR code sends visitors with smartphones directly to our Web site to read more about it.
Artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck have been awarded an Arts Council grant to work with the Library. Their work to date includes an exhibition, based around materials borrowed from the Library, at Jerwood Space in London - Now I Gotta Reason focused on art production as a useful and productive activity. It incorporated study groups on the topic of 'money' and a Skills Swap Bazaar which aimed to create an alternative moneyless economy inspired by Robert Owen's Equitable Labour Exchange.
Photo digitisation pilot - thanks to the offer of space in the University of Salford's digital repository we undertook a test run digitising high resolution copies of a selection of the thousands of photographs in our collection. These can be viewed online at http://usir.salford.ac.uk/view/archive_collections/WCML.html.
Redecoration of the Kitchen - in the summer Royston Futter kindly volunteered to redecorate the kitchen. Fresh emulsion has replaced the tatty wallpaper, and this has vastly improved the room where volunteers, staff and visitors tend to gather. We are waiting for Salford City Council to tackle the damp in one wall.
Restocking the Garden - Lynette spent the money awarded by the Salford ‘Secret Gardens Festival' on replacing roses mistakenly dug up by a group of enthusiastic student volunteers.
In addition to the new volunteers who are participating in the ‘Invisible Histories' Project we have a full complement of 50 volunteers in the Library. Sadly in these difficult times, we continue to have a waiting list of people seeking work experience. Our volunteers undertake a huge range of tasks, from welcoming visitors or creating exhibitions to digitising tapes or adding indexing terms to books to make them more findable on our catalogue. Although it is invidious to single out any individual, we are delighted to have our first volunteer bookbinder, Barry Clarke, who has transformed some of our more dilapidated tomes with his painstaking and elegant work.
Jen Morgan, the first of three Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded PhD students jointly appointed by the Library and by the University of Salford, completed her one day a week voluntary work with us at the end of September. She contributed in many ways including an excellent, challenging ‘Radical Jubilee' exhibition in the summer. The second student, Matt Kavanagh, who is researching ‘The Communist Party of Great Britain, Teachers and Education in Schools, 1920-1991', has been with us a day a week since October; as a former teacher he is helping us think about new educational angles to our presentation of the Library collections.
The monthly volunteers' lunches followed by talks, primarily on aspects of the Library's collection, continue to be well attended.
Lynette Cawthra, our excellent Library Manager, continues to be supported by Jane Taylor, our Librarian, and Tara Sutton, Library Assistant. Lynette manages our two current projects as well as the Library building and what goes on within it, and is also the main point of contact for initial enquiries to the Library. Jane, in addition to taking responsibility for running the Library if Lynette is away, catalogues our collection, oversees the work of volunteers and is our IT trouble-shooter. Tara deals with readers' requests to see material, and administration to do with Friends and fundraising. She maintains the FileMaker database, developed by Jane, which holds details of those who use or donate to the Library.
The quality of service given to users is further enhanced by Alain Kahan, our ‘retired' librarian who works 2 half days a week, Jan Walker our patient cleaner, and Mike Carter, our occasional graphic artist.
RAISING THE PROFILE OF THE LIBRARY
Invitations to the Library to take part in external events and projects continue to increase, indicating that our public profile is higher than ever. Visitors arriving as readers and attending events report a wide range of places where they have heard about us, some from leaflets, others maybe from an online listing, our own Web site, increasingly from Twitter, or - still important - by word of mouth. This indicates that we need to maintain our existing forms of communication as well as keeping up-to-date with new ones.
Exhibitions - From April to June we held a joint exhibition with the University of Salford featuring the work of Albert Adams, a South African artist who studied at the Slade in the 1950s and spent much of his life in England. The exhibition in the NALGO Room featured Adams's powerful, disturbing responses to atrocities in South Africa, Darfur and Iraq.
In July, Jen Morgan's Radical Jubilee provided a welcome alternative view of past jubilees.
In September, Mike Carter, who continues to be our much valued graphic artist, presented Snap!: my life in the WCML, his personal view of the Library's collections.
In November Veronica Trick and Chris Clayton created Jubilee House to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Library's arrival in Salford.
Events - Two highly successful events were held in April. The third Frow Memorial Lecture, Dreamers of a New Day, was given by Sheila Rowbotham. Just over 100 people heard her in the Council Chamber of the Old Fire Station which was again provided by our good neighbours, the University of Salford. Mikron Theatre performed Can you keep a secret?: the rise and fall of the Yorkshire Luddites in the Annexe.
In May, Islington Mill was the venue for Will Kaufman to perform Woody Guthrie: hard times and hard travelling, a live documentary which set Guthrie's songs in the context of 1930s America. Will generously gave his services free and donated the proceeds of £450 to the Library.
Later in May a Museums at Night-funded event was held with photographer Simon Roberts, whose presence the Library had won in a Culture24 online contest with two other institutions, achieving 74% of the votes cast. Simon filmed current radical activists outlining their campaigns in the afternoon and spoke to an evening meeting about his work. Winning the contest also led to an unlikely juxtaposition as the Library was represented at a Museums at Night reception at 11 Downing Street.
Two series of ‘Invisible Histories' talks were held in the summer and autumn on topics including radical gardening, the co-operative movement's early use of film and the Women's Freedom League One of the talks, on American former slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass by Natalie Zacek, also marked Black History Month. The talks were, as usual, well attended and provoked lively discussions.
In October Charlie McGuire spoke on the largely neglected Irish nationalist Sean McLoughlin.
In February, LGBT History Month was celebrated with a talk by Sonja Tiernan on the remarkable partnership and campaigns of Eva Gore Booth and Esther Roper, and in March, the Library's International Women's Day event highlighted the plight of women at the margins of society with Livi Michael on the Pendle witches and Ruth Eversley on present day asylum seekers.
Social Media - 1,350 people now receive the Library's e-newsletter produced by Lynette. Our Facebook ‘likes' have risen to nearly 2,200 and there are over 1,200 followers on Twitter. The ‘blog' developed by Jane continues to get contributions from staff and volunteers and is flagged up on Twitter. The Library's use of social media resulted in an invitation to Lynette to talk at an event run by Manchester NetSquared, a voluntary grouping helping non-profit organisations to better use the Web.
Our recreation on Twitter of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass to mark its 80th anniversary attracted a lot of interest from ramblers and others.
Stalls - Stalls staffed by volunteers were held at the Ordsall Summer Festival, Salford Local History Fair and the Peace History Conference at the People's History Museum.
Publicity - The Fabric of Manchester range of greetings cards, a Renaissance NW-funded project covering Manchester and Salford museums, libraries and galleries, are now on sale in the Library and in the other 14 venues. This provides excellent free publicity for our collections, as well as income.
The Museums at Night contest and event generated a lot of media interest including an interview with Lynette on Radio Manchester and a feature on Manchester Mule.
Some of the interviews in Ken Loach's ‘Spirit of 45' were filmed at the Library, which received a credit in the film when it was released in March 2013.
The 24 oil paintings in the Library collection have been professionally photographed and have appeared on the Public Catalogue Foundation's Web site Your Paintings, hosted by the BBC. This aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings. We were also asked to write a piece about our pictures which appeared in the June PCF Newsletter, which has an online readership of 8,000.
The Invisible Histories project has featured in the Manchester Evening News, Big Issue in the North and the Salford Advertiser, as well as the online Quays News.
Early publicity for the Esmée Fairbairn project has included a brief interview with Chris Burgess on Granada Reports, and inclusion in an article on digitising archives in the Museums Association journal Museum Practice.
A general article on the Library appeared in issue 3 of the magazine Trade Union Solidarity in the summer, and articles about events have featured in The Guardian's online Northerner blog, Morning Star, and local newspapers and Web sites. In January WCML featured as one of five Manchester/Salford highlights in Northern Spirit's ‘Wondrous Place' blog - http://northernspirit.org.uk/2013/01/26/working-class-movement-library/, and Maxine Peake mentioned us in an interview in The Observer in March.
The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to the staff, volunteers, friends and all our active supporters for their contribution to the ongoing work of the Library and for ensuring that we continue to be fresh and innovative whilst continuing to maintain high professional standards.
We are grateful for the generous response to our fundraising appeals which has enabled us to meet the second year of cuts in our grant from Salford City Council with only a modest contribution from reserves. However we have to raise more to cover the planned cut next year and those which will inevitably follow until we have a Government with more equable policies.
Above all, we wish to express our strong commitment to do everything in our power to ensure the long-term future and continuing development of the unique, priceless collection we hold in trust.