The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) is looking for an expert partner to:

  • Identify the significant digital developments on the horizon and identify the digital leadership skills and competencies which library staff will need to respond effectively and appropriately to this changing landscape
  • Complete an audit of the digital awareness and skills set of the existing leadership / aspiring leadership of the sector
  • Recommend how to address the gaps

Deadline for receipt of tender proposals: 7 March 2014, with shortlisted applicants invited to give a presentation week beginning 17 March 2014

Work to begin 1 April 2014, with delivery of the horizon scanning report, the skills audit and the training/ development recommendations at the 4 June 2014 SCL Executive meeting.

 2. Background

The SCL leads and manages the public library service. SCL is a local government

association made up of the chief librarian of each library service in England, Wales

and Northern Ireland.


SCL takes a leading role in the development of public libraries, through sharing best

practice, advocating for continuous improvement on behalf of local people, and

leading the debate on the future of the public library service. Public libraries operate

in a fast-changing world and are responding to this challenge imaginatively in

communities across the UK.

SCL is partnering with Arts Council England (ACE) to support and develop the

strategic leadership within public libraries.

In 2012/13 ACE commissioned research to help to plan for the future of public

libraries, leading to the publication of Envisioning the library of the future.

This report, with the subsequent follow up work on innovation and consultation, has

further reinforced the importance of technology in the future of libraries and the

digital leadership role for the sector


In partnership with ACE and The Reading Agency (TRA), SCL has developed four

universal offers for libraries which focus upon core areas of the Library offer:

 Health

 Books and Reading

 Information

 Digital

A description and the content of the offers can be found on the SCL’s website:

The digital offer in particular needs to continuously evolve to reflect the rapidly

changing landscape and the aspirations and expectations of library users,

commissioners, and library staff.

This has been recognised as a priority by SCL and ACE has agreed to fund SCL to

develop this area of work.

SCL is currently working in partnership on a number of initiatives which use or

promote technology.  These include

 a national pilot on eBook lending, working with the Publishers Association

 exploration of a partnership role for public libraries in the delivery of MOOCs

(massive open online learning courses)

 a digital World War One memorial

The public library service is underpinned by its digital services.  Since internet

access was introduced in the late 1990s, libraries have offered inclusive and

enabling web access to library customers, developed a wide range of applications,

supported a variety of devices and opened up a rich offer of content, information and


The digital offer in libraries is dynamic and ever evolving.  Public library leaders face

a growing set of challenges on

 Using technology to engage, promote and advocate for public libraries

 Providing content and dynamic information in a mobile world

 Serving the printed word and so much more, where the physical media

merges increasingly into the digital

 The meeting of people , communities, and data in virtual social networks

 Supporting wireless networks and devices which enable an increasing variety

of interactive content

 Using technology to increase efficiency and using applications based in the

cloud to deliver front and back office services

 Influencing local authority ICT colleagues to adopt an enabling approach to

the provision of public access to technology via the library service

SCL would like to understand what opportunities and challenges are likely to emerge

over the next few years.

There is a perception that library leaders could be more opportunistic and

entrepreneurial if they had better digital skills themselves.

We need to ensure that library leaders now, and future commissioners of

applications, content and digital services, are conversant and confident with the

emerging digital landscape

This project will help to identify the scale of any gaps, and provide recommendations

for the Society on how to address these.


3. Application information 

3.1 Timetable: 

 Deadline for submissions: 7 March 2014

 Shortlisting and invitation to present : Week beginning 10 March 2014

 Announcement of successful candidates: 24 March 2014

 Duration of project:  We would expect this work to be completed between 1

April and 31 May 2014.

 The findings to be ready for presentation at the SCL Executive Board meeting

at Scarman House, Warwick University on 4th June 2014.

3.2 Project management:  

The SCL contacts for this work are:

 Janene Cox, President, SCL

 Ciara Eastell, President-Elect, SCL

 Nick Stopforth, SCL Lead on the Digital Offer

 Alison Wheeler, SCL Board member

3.3 The application: 

All correspondence in relation to this exercise should be addressed to:

Janene Cox :

Commissioner for Tourism and the Cultural County

President- Society of Chief Librarians

Staffordshire County Council

Floor 2, No1 Staffordshire Place, Tipping Street, Stafford, ST16 2DH

Please specify in your application who will be involved in the project, their

experience, and credentials.

We are looking for an expert partner who can engage effectively with the leadership

of the library sector.

3.4 Selection criteria

Criteria Weighting

Methodology – will the proposed

approach work with the dispersed

network of the SCL membership?  Does

the suggested approach have a

convincing timetable?


Context- does the application show some

understanding of the public library

agenda, challenges and opportunities?


Cost- does the proposal represent good

value for money 30%


3.5 Compliance: 

We reserve the right to evaluate proposals on a variety of criteria.

SCL is not responsible, and will not pay for any expenses or losses you incur during,

but not limited to, the application preparation, visits, negotiations or interviews.


Send 1 copy of your tender including all documentation in a plain sealed envelope or

package by no later than 5pm on 7 March 2014 to the following address:


Janene Cox

Staffordshire County Council

Floor 2, No1 Staffordshire Place

Tipping Street, Stafford ST16 2DH


Please also send 1 electronic copy of your response to the relevant SCL contacts:


Any application delivered after 5pm on the 7 March 2014 may be discounted.


In your application, clearly indicate the names and addresses of any subcontractors

you intend to use, if any , and the scope of work you will employ them for.


3.6 Post-application interviews 

SCL reserves the right to ask you to attend post-application interviews to present

your proposals. You are responsible for all your expenses when attending such


SCL reserves the right to conduct negotiations with one or more applicants.