I’m pleased to report that the Universal Offer review is gathering pace and that we will complete the evidence gathering phase of the project this month. This stage began with two Heads of Service consultations in Manchester and Loughborough with the final two in London and Bristol later this month.
At the same time our research partners, Shared Intelligence, are carrying out telephone interviews with our key external partners. A survey also went out to all Heads of Service in December with a shorter survey for any library staff who wanted to contribute. These closed on 21 January with 1285 members of staff and over 80 heads of service responding.
During the consultations we talked about how the offers are articulated and linked to outcomes such as employment, education, inequality, inclusion and mental health. We also considered how the offers are currently objective descriptions of the services, as opposed to people-focused outcomes, and discussed how these could be changed.
The good news is that we are finding lots of support for the offers, although as expected, there have been differences in how people think the offers should work. Some feel that they should provide a consistent level of service across all libraries while others want it to be a framework which enables local delivery and creativity. We’ve also had some discussion about how the offers should be structured.
Many libraries are currently exploring how to take the offers forward locally and so we need to consider how we can support and learn from this while not leaving anyone behind. One of the big discussions at the Loughborough group was the need to clarify the purpose of the offers and the disconnect between staff who are engaged with the offers and those who would not know what they were if asked.
We will meet with the reference group, which includes colleagues who helped shape the review and the Universal Offer leads, in March. This is when we will begin work on the final report, with publication due in early April.
The report will be followed by a planning and consultation phase with the aim of implementing in September 2019 onwards. I am so grateful for the contributions that you have all made so far but not a little daunted about the work that still lies ahead!