Suffolk Libraries IPS Looks for first members

Board Member Sylvia Knights
As previously reported Suffolk Libraries IPS took control of Suffolk’s 44 libraries on 1 August. Yesterday it held a meeting for local libraries interested in the possibility of membership. A total of 18 libraries were represented at this first meeting which was in my view a good start.

By August next year the IPS will hold its first elections to appoint 7 Directors. Directors must be nominated by at least one IPS “member”. IPS Members will also vote for the Directors. Each library is eligible for membership it it forms some kind of group that can become a member of the IPS.

Originally the intention set by Suffolk County Council was for each library to have a “incorporated” organisation of some kind like a limited company that could become a member of the IPS. I wrote a piece about this in March arguing this was a governance sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Thankfully the IPS has now had a re-think and will now allow unincorporated “friends groups” that are easy to set up to become members. The aim according to IPS Board Member Sylvia Knights is to ensure a well populated, vigorous and varied membership before the Board elections.

This is an important message. For the IPS to continue to thrive it needs to have Board members committed to the library service. This can only happen if enough libraries become members and put forward candidates.

So as the IPS looks to have cleared its first hurdle, negotiating a contract with the County Council it faces every bit as much of a challenge now on two fronts. Making the local groups work and restructuring its staff.
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