25 July 2015

Enterprising Libraries

Library card index
Author Stuart Caie
Source Wikipedia
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On Monday 22 June 2015 I attended a reception at the British Library to celebrate the launch of a report by Adroit Economics entitled Enterprising Libraries: A blueprint for delivering economic growth in UK cities. According to Adroit Economics
"Adroit evaluated the British Library's major business support programme which provides advice on IP and other business start-up and growth issues, serving c 2,200 start-ups."
I have not yet been able to find a copy of the report but its highlights are summarized in an article in the British Library's Innovation and Enterprise blog on 23 June.

Evidently the British Library were very pleased with the report for they threw quite a lavish party which included a private view of the Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition. There were speeches by Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, Darren Henley, Chief Executive of the Arts Council and Kanya King, founder and CEO of MOBO (Music of Black Origin). Unfortunately, the acoustics in the entrance hall to the British Library where the reception was held were appalling. I  could barely make out a word that any of them said. I could hear none of King's speech whatsoever because she spoke very softly even though I moved as close to the lectern as possible.

There were also some of the great and the good of innovation at the reception:  Mandy Haberman, inventor of the Anywayup cup. Bola Olabisi founder of the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network whom I featured in  Innovation in Africa - Bola Olabisi 5 March 2011 and the patent agent Richard Gallafent who founded Ideas 21. There were also friends and acquaintances from the Intellectual Property Office and PATLib libraries like Joyce Gray of Sheffield and Ruth Grodner of Liverpool though sadly neither Ged Doonan nor Stef Stephenson who had blazed a trail for libraries everywhere from Leeds were present. Instead, Leeds libraries were represented  by officials whom I had never met before in the decade that I have been running the Leeds Inventors Club and giving talks and dispensing free legal advice there.

However, I made some new acquaintances in the PatLib network such as John Musham of Newcastle and a delightful pair from the magnificent Library of Birmingham  I commended the new library and the Hippodrome Theatre which I had visited two days earlier to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet's move to Birmingham and David Bintley's 20 years as artistic director of the company (see In Praise of Bintley 21 June 2015 Terpsichore). They were purring like kittens at the compliments to their city until I reminded them of the latest census returns which had put Greater Manchester marginally ahead of the West Midlands in the number of inhabitants (see Largest urban areas of the European Union Wikipedia) and muttered about the Northern Powerhouse. Cruel I know but as a Mancunian I am incensed by the notion that the city of Cobden, Rutherford and Turing yields to anyone. Now there is no longer even a statistical basis for the estwhile metal bashers to claim to be the UK's second city if indeed there ever was.

I should say a few words about the Enterprising Libraries programme. This is a joint venture between the British Library and the Department for Communities funded by the Arts Council England to develop local libraries into community hubs for local economic growth. I have written extensively about this programme in this and my other blogs over the last few years and you will find links to my articles in PatLib Libraries in the UK 25 Jan 2015. To a very large extent this initiative compensates for the closure of the Business Link network  by the Coalition government. The first phase was to develop Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield libraries into local Business and IP Centres in partnership with the British Library (see the National Network page of the British Library's website). The Arts Council has just announced that 10 other library authorities in England have been awarded a share of a £450,000 grant to develop business and IP reference services (see the Successful applicants page of the Arts Council's website). Pilot schemes to develop Exeter and Northampton Central Libraries into Business and IP Centres.

With 10 years experience of working with libraries in the North to holding clinics, running inventors clubs and speaking on intellectual property I see the value of this initiative and will support it in any way I can. Should anyone wish to discuss this they should call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal office house or contact me through this form.