Is the fate already sealed for Dorking’s Performing Arts Library?

At the time of writing Surrey County Council is still advertising a link across its website (above) directing users to submit feedback regarding plans to close Dorking’s Performing Arts Library.

Such a shame then that the page providing the options to pick over for Dorking’s Performing Arts Library states that comments should be submitted by 1 October.

I’m a few days late. In my defence I’ve been bit under the weather these past few days.

The state of the library is an important matter.

Dorking Performing Arts Library is home to orchestral sets, scores, and recordings used by all sorts of amateur performing groups.

It’s also where a significant collection of original manuscripts and associated material by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (via Private Eye No.1453).

Amongst the options being considered by the council to make the library “cost neutral” by 2018:

  1. The library service continues to provide written and recorded material relating to the performing arts by relocating the stock and delivering the services in an existing library (for music sets), and in multiple libraries across the county for books, cds, etc.
  2. The transfer of ownership, either in part or full, to a community or other organisation on the understanding that the stock continues to be available to the public.
  3. If neither of the above options can deliver the required savings, then close the service and signpost to the nearest alternative services.

Option 1 seems like the best option to me – at least that way there’ll still be one location where performing groups can go to in Surrey to hire musical sets at an affordable rate.

Interestingly though, there’s no mention of the historical importance of the Ralph Vaughan Williams assets. That seems like a bit of an oversight. Presumably that’s because they don’t want to draw attention to how important a resource it is in case they need to find the £180,000 they need to keep it where it is.

What’s often depressing about surveys like these set up by publically-funded organisations is that the decision has often already been made. Consultations like these are often nothing more than a PR exercise, to counter any claim that a publically-funded organisation has made decisions unilaterally.

Watch this space. The decision will be announced later in the autumn.

This post was emailed to the Surrey County Council.

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