In response to the limitations imposed by lockdown, the Scottish Poetry Library will not be holding our traditional AGM gathering in the Library. Instead, Friends will be able to vote on the motions of business either by post or online via our website. The closing date for responses will be 18 January. Thereafter, we plan to record an interview with the SPL’s co-Chairs and Director answering the questions submitted with the voting forms, along with an announcement of the results of the votes. The recording will be posted on the SPL’s website in February.
Friends are requested to:
- Accept the annual accounts. You can read them by clicking here.
- Agree to the reappointment of our auditor
- Approve the minutes of last year’s meeting. You can read them by clicking here.
- Elect members to the Board. You can read the statements of the people who are standing for election here.
The papers presented include:
You can vote in the Scottish Poetry Library AGM 2020 via this online voting form.
I thought that it would be useful to provide you with an update on the way in which the SPL has adapted to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
In response to the national lockdown, we suspended our visitor services in mid-March. We quickly adapted to enable home-working for the staff team and we extended our book loan period. Our in-demand reader development and creative writing workshops were shifted to online platforms and we plan to retain this digital offer when restrictions to indoor activities are eventually relaxed. Our shop sales adapted to a home-delivery service model.
Some staff returned to the library in August when we introduced free postal borrowing and reserve & collect services. We reopened to visitors in October before the city’s public libraries opened their doors. We currently operate on reduced hours during weekdays. Our poems enquiries service remains ever-popular. Our Board have been meeting more frequently using an online platform. This adaption to the way the Board convenes will remain in place after restrictions are lifted.
The commissioning of 20 new poems was supported by our new poetry ambassadors, Hugh McMillan, Aoife Lyall, Ceitidh Campbell and Thomas Clark. The ambassadors also selected poets for addition to our Online Guide to Scottish Poets. We plan to undertake this selection process every two years. Another innovation developed through this process was the introduction of the Outstanding Contribution to Poetry in Scotland Award. The inaugural recipient was Joy Hendry. We plan to repeat this award next year, and every other year thereafter.
We also initiated a programme of film recordings with writers John Hegley (over 8,000 views), Janette Ayachi (over 7,000 views), Sheena Blackhall and James Robertson. We worked with Literature Wales on a series of short films supporting minority languages for National Poetry Day. We are also producing an online Winter Festival event in partnership with the Scottish Government and a tour of the Library in Scottish Gaelic. Pupils at Morgan Academy in Dundee are filming a special recording of ‘Tam O’Shanter’ for our Burns Day celebration.
Our projects progressed through online discussions and we are making good headway with new titles for Nurses, Midwives and Social Workers in our Tools of the trade series. We partnered with the Educational Institute of Scotland to support creative writing workshops for teachers. We are also introducing a Poetry Line service for people feeling lonely and missing contact, which will be delivered through our volunteering programme.
Our wellbeing-themed activity has included creative writing workshops delivered by Lesley Macniven for people experiencing Long-Covid and sessions on grief and isolation delivered in partnership with Lapidus Scotland. We will continue to support this work next year along with workshops supporting mindfulness to be delivered by Colin McGuire. We will measure the impact of these activities for participants in the hope that we might secure additional funding to sustain our wellbeing programme.
New partnerships include the Push the Boat Out international poetry festival planned to take place in Edinburgh in October next year. We will continue to host university placements starting in January with students from the University of Strathclyde’s Information and Library Studies course and Queen Margaret University’s Arts, Festivals and Culture course. We have also maintained our involvement with the RIVAL network of libraries.
Up to December of this year, our financial health is stable, in part due to a long-term room hire. Our budget forecast for the financial year 2021-2022 shows a significant reduction of at least (£50,000) in non-grant revenue from a drop in sales in our bookshop, lower demand for venue hire and the suspension of our events programme. In response we propose to designate any surplus produced this financial year to priority wellbeing projects and ongoing health and safety measures, including additional cleaning services.
The mood in the culture sector appears more optimistic since the announcement of the vaccination programme. The roll-out might be too late for our intention to host screenings in the library of readings from the StAnza festival in spring-time, but we hope to be able to put together a programme of performance activity for the Edinburgh Fringe season in August.