Libraries and Information Services
Libraries have been the subject of massive change in recent years and significant investment has been provided, particularly via the New Opportunities Fund (NOF), for investment in ICT. However, there is still a legacy in many authorities of libraries being the "Cinderella" service. Once libraries could be guaranteed their own Chief Officer post within a Local Authority, which brought a seat at the Chief Officers' Management Team table. This is often NOT the case now, with libraries being subsumed into Leisure or Community Services Directorates and, more recently, into Education Departments. Libraries influence within Authorities is often reduced. This needs to be seen within a context though where libraries are playing a pivotal role in the cultural and educational life of the local community. Libraries have a key role to play in lifelong learning, social inclusion and community development.

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ACT can help you with the following range of Consultancy and Training services:
  • Developing library and information strategies
  • Providing advice on library and information services
  • Designing and delivering specific library training and development programmes on matters of topical concern and importance
  • Establishing specialist library services, such as Internet cafes and One Stop Shops
  • Designing new and refurbished library facilities, including experience of PFI bids
  • Carrying out performance reviews and evaluations of library services
  • Advice and guidance on library service planning
  • Advising on management structures and methods of service delivery
  • Carrying out interim management responsibilities for senior library posts, including that of Chief Librarian.

Alternative Ways of Delivering the Service
There are increasing demands throughout the library and information world for more effective ways of delivering services with ever increasing financial constraints. A fundamental reappraisal of public services and the way they are delivered is required. In recent years, a variety of new and revised approaches to service delivery have been tried, with some success, and these include: trust status, market testing, externalisations, private sector involvement, more local delivery of services and increased community involvement. Often benefits arising from these approaches include: capital investment by the private sector, more efficient delivery of services and improved value for money.

ACT can help you with the following range of Consultancy and Training services:

  • Auditing and analysing existing service delivery
  • Carrying out value for money analyses and budgetary reviews
  • Establishing service priorities and benchmarking against other providers
  • Preparing service specifications, against which to measure performance, including the formulation of performance indicators
  • Compiling skills audits and training needs' assessments
  • Advising on and managing the change process
  • Conducting management reviews and restructuring, including downsizing and delayering
  • Identifying and implementing alternative service delivery mechanisms
  • Carrying out market testing of services, including competitive tendering, externalisations and Best Value
  • Assessing tenders and contract monitoring
  • Enabling the local delivery of services with increased community participation

Business Planning and Feasibility Studies
An important element of any Library Services' activities is to ensure that it has an effective business plan. This plan becomes the key tool in the development of the business and it is something that needs to be kept continually under review. At the outset of any new business, (or any new product or service), a comprehensive business plan needs to be devised. In order to inform the process, it is essential that feasibility studies are carried out and ACT is able to assist with this.

ACT can help you with the following range of Consultancy and Training services:
  • Researching and producing feasibility studies and business plans for new services or activities
  • Carrying out business reviews and providing appropriate support
  • Assisting with product development and marketing
  • Providing business plans and feasibility studies to support bids for external funding such as Big Lottery and other funding regimes.

Funding Regimes
There is a myriad of funding regimes available and which can be very time consuming to research and prepare bids and there is no guarantee of success. Even if you are successful, there is a significant resource implication in managing and monitoring the bids.

ACT can help you with the following range of Consultancy and Training services:

  • Analysing needs and identifying the most appropriate action programmes
  • Evaluating projects and providing bid guidance and preparation, against the stated criteria
  • Submitting bids with, and on behalf of, the Client organisation to the regime's' guidelines
  • Identifying and building partnerships
  • Providing programme support to the Programme Managers
  • Carrying out policy and programme reviews to identify obstacles to implementation and the options which facilitate service delivery
  • Developing and training staff involved on the programmes
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of grants' programmes and funding regimes

Library Study Tours
ACT is also able to offer a tailored and specialised service for all overseas librarians wishing to visit the UK and see examples of best library practice and discuss professional issues with colleagues. This is a perfect opportunity to combine a personal holiday with a professional visit.

ACT would be pleased to co-ordinate your visit so that it coincides with particular events or seminars/conferences in the UK. We could, for example, if you are a teacher or a school/college librarian, arrange for you to visit a number of school libraries or college libraries and include attendance at a relevant seminar or conference during your stay. Alternatively, you may wish to visit a range of libraries which cut across sectors.

Tours can be arranged to a variety of libraries including Public Libraries, Academic Libraries, including Universities, Colleges and Schools, and Special Libraries, including the commercial sector and Government Libraries. Tours can be UK wide or be based on a Region or a particular city, such as London.

We would be pleased to accompany you on your visits or else you may prefer to have the arrangements made for you and to visit on your own. We would be delighted to assist you either way. We can also help with accommodation if required to the budget you advise us on.

ACT has access to a wide network of libraries through its Director, Keith Stevens, who has been the Chief Librarian of two Local Authorities and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (FCLIP). He is also a regular speaker on Library courses and has organised courses and Executive Briefings on behalf of the London and Home Counties Branch of CILIP (formerly the Library Association).

Recent Clients include:
The British Library
Aberdeen City Council
South Lanarkshire Council
Swindon Borough Council
Wokingham District Council
LB Haringey
LB Lambeth
LB Havering
Medway Towns Council
East Sussex County Council
The City of Westminster
Shropshire County Council
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