Not a life-and death service, libraries are particularly vulnerable to austerity cuts - yet the statutory duty to make ‘comprehensive and efficient’ provision remains. Strong leadership is needed to steer a course between competing priorities and ensure that library services have a real future in a fast-changing world.
I attended the Clore Leadership Short Course a few years ago and met people from across the cultural sectors. The experience made me realise that the issues and challenges we face are very similar - and gave me a wider perspective.
All this was very useful at the time, but recently became more so when I took on a wider role managing Warwickshire County Council’s registration and one-stop-shop services as well as libraries.
The challenge for libraries is to do more with less, concentrating limited resources on the services modern-day customers need, want and will use. They are reinventing themselves by developing new structures and business models - such as social enterprises - and forming new partnerships within the public, private and voluntary sectors.
All this demands a more entrepreneurial and innovative approach to service delivery with a strong focus on strategic commissioning. Most importantly, heads of service need the leadership skills to take colleagues, councillors and the public with them.
Ayub Khan MBE is Customer Service Manager (Face to Face), One Stop Shop, Registration and Library Service for Warwickshire County Council