Latest news on the Surrey Performing Arts Library review

August 2022

The Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) has been a non-statutory part of Surrey's library service for many years. The collection is one of the last remaining specialist music collections in the country that is available to the general public and consists of a range of books and audio-visual materials covering dance, theatre, stagecraft, cinema and music, including music scores, orchestral sets and play sets. In February 2019, following a public consultation, Surrey County Council (SCC) Cabinet approved an organisation called NewSPAL to take over the running of the collection. This would allow it to be fully cost neutral to SCC and the Library Service whilst still preserving access to materials for those who use it.

Since then, Surrey Libraries have been working to transfer the Performing Arts Collection, including the Vaughan Williams Collection and the Making Music Kirby Collection, to the charity NewSPAL. We are pleased to announce that we are now ready to transfer the collection and NewSPAL will take over the day to day running from 22 August 2022. To minimise any disruption to borrowers and ensure a smooth handover period, Surrey Libraries will stop taking new reservations and stop loaning items from the Performing Arts Collection at close of business on Tuesday 9 August 2022.

NewSPAL will begin taking reservations from Monday 22 August, which will provide time for the library service to hand over ongoing reservations and the management of the collection. During this time, groups and individual borrowers will not be able to reserve, borrow or browse items from the Performing Arts stock.

NewSPAL will have their own Library Management System and charging structure, so please refer to their website for the latest information as it becomes available. All reservations that have already been placed with Ewell Library will be actioned either by NewSPAL or Surrey Library Service depending on the date it is due to be collected. NewSPAL will be in contact with all groups who have reservations currently in hand to set up new accounts with them and the hire charges will be paid using their new charging structure.

As you may be collecting reserved material after the transfer date, it is important that you give permission for details of your reservation to be handed over to NewSPAL. Please tick the permissions box on the online reservation form when you are reserving items. This is to enable us to hand over your reservation to NewSPAL and ensure as smooth a transfer as possible. You will need to register with NewSPAL to borrow music and drama items and they will be in touch to guide you through the process.

To find out more about how NewSPAL will be operating the collection, please visit the NewSPAL's website.

June 2022

Now that Surrey Libraries has agreed to hand over to NewSPAL to run the collection from Ewell Library for the next 2 years, a review of the material within the collection has been held, in collaboration with NewSPAL. This is to ensure that the resources that NewSPAL take on are both relevant to their users and fit within the space allocated in Ewell Library. Due to concerns around space, as well as the changing times and user habits, NewSPAL have decided that they do not want to take possession of the 11,000 CDs which form part of the collection.

Surrey Libraries also do not want to keep these CDs in circulation, due to the way that people now access music. The decision was taken to remove CDs from the rest of the libraries in Surrey in 2014, and the performing arts collection CDs have been borrowed less and less over the last 8 years, with only 58 CDs being borrowed so far in 2022. NewSPAL are happy for the library service to dispose of the CDs, so the library service intends to sell them, which both parties are happy with.

CDs will no longer be available to borrow after Friday 24 June and there will be a CD sale at Ewell Library starting from Saturday 25 June.

You may also be interested to know that Surrey Libraries subscribe to an online resource called Naxos Music Library. This is an online music streaming resource, containing over 170,000 CDs, all available free of charge to members of the library via our Music section on our Online reference shelf webpage.

March 2022

Since 2019, Surrey Libraries have been working to transfer the Performing Arts collection to the charity NewSPAL. Due to Covid-19, this was delayed and plans had to be changed, but we are now working hard to transfer the collection in the very near future. NewSPAL have released the information below and more information about them and their services can be found on the NewSPAL website.

NewSPAL to start operations

NewSPAL are delighted to announce that they will shortly be taking over the Surrey Performing Arts Library.

NewSPAL will run the Performing Arts collection as a separate entity, based at its current location at Bourne Hall, Ewell. They are working on the transition arrangements alongside Surrey Libraries, with a view to taking over possibly as early as mid 2022.

We are confident that this transfer is in the best interests of all concerned. NewSPAL will focus on the needs of the performing arts community in Surrey and beyond, ensuring a safe, long term home for the collection, enabling users to manage their own borrowing requirements, and offering dedicated, expert staff. It is also our intention to begin a programme of investment in the collection to ensure that it is maintained as broad and current as possible.

The transfer will also enable Surrey Libraries to focus on their core services and continue to improve the service they offer to the community.

NewSPAL will continue to seek alternative premises for the longer term to offer space to further expand the collection.


NewSPAL are now advertising for two positions:

Library manager

Our library manager will have an opportunity to lead the development of a new library service in the charitable sector, and to make a real difference to the service offered to the performing arts community in Surrey and beyond. We are looking for someone with energy and enthusiasm and a clear background in both management and the performing arts.

This will be a part time role, working approximately 30 hours a week, and on an initial contract of two years.

Start-up manager

As advised in our last newsletter, we're looking for someone to pick up the project plan in the short term, and work with the trustees, Surrey Libraries, and our volunteers and external providers, to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

Both roles are being advertised on the NewSPAL website so if you or someone you know might be interested, please do forward the details to them.

Practical arrangements for user groups

NewSPAL are working closely with the Surrey Libraries team to make sure that the transfer process is as seamless as possible for all users of the performing arts collection.

Existing reservations will be honoured, and procedures will be in place to ensure that users can continue to make reservations and borrow the items they need throughout the transfer period.

Please note that for data protection reasons Surrey Libraries cannot simply transfer existing borrowers' details to NewSPAL, so we will also make sure that we have systems in place for you to register your details with NewSPAL in a way that allows us to track your existing reservations. If you're asked for permission to share your data with us, please do say yes!

Surrey Libraries will be in touch with existing borrowers in due course with further details; please watch out for their emails and also for our own communications through this newsletter.

September 2019

In February, Surrey County Council Cabinet's made the decision to transfer the Performing Arts collection to the charity NewSPAL. Since then, the library service has been working with NewSPAL to prepare for the transfer from Ewell Library to NewSPAL's new location in Woking early next year.

NewSPAL needs the help and input from users and potential users so they can make the best decisions about the way the new service will work and they will be holding two user consultation events, one in Redhill and one in Guildford, in September and October. Further details on how to book for these events can be found on NewSPAL's webpage.

26 February 2019

At their 26 February meeting Surrey County Council's Cabinet approved NewSPAL as the organisation to offer a Performing Arts Library service to the public.

The Cabinet approved 6 recommendations which mean that the library service will now start work with NewSPAL on ensuring a smooth transfer.

The collection and equipment will be passed to NewSPAL on a conditional loan basis for a transitional period of around 2 years. During this time NewSPAL will regularly report on its progress against an agreed set of performance measures. Surrey County Council Cabinet will take a decision on the unconditional transfer at the end of the transitional period.

Continuing the work we have already been doing together, Surrey Libraries and NewSPAL will shortly start the discussions to determine how and when Ewell Library's Dance, Drama, Music Resources and Services will be transferred to NewSPAL and their new premises.

The full set of recommendations approved by the Cabinet are below.


1. That NewSPAL use the current SPAL collection and equipment, to offer a Performing Arts Library service to the public be approved.

2. That authority be delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning to finalise the phased transfer of the collection and equipment on a conditional basis for a transitional period in anticipation of a final unconditional transfer and gifting of the collection and equipment.

3. That the responsible officer agree a set of performance measures with NewSPAL throughout the transition period in order to evaluate progress and performance and inform the final decision by the Council on the transfer.

4. That approval be given for officers to report on progress to the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning and set a deadline for completion of the lease negotiations between NewSPAL and Woking Borough Council that is appropriate with the transition period.

5. That approval is given to the responsible officer to report annually on progress towards the final transfer to the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning.

6. That Cabinet will review progress in the Summer of 2021 with the final decision on unconditional transfer and gifting of the collection and equipment to be taken by the Cabinet at the end of the transitional period.

February 2019

Our consultation regarding the Surrey Performing Arts Library and its proposed transfer to the charity NewSPAL has now closed. The final report on the consultation will be discussed at Surrey County Council's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 26 February at 2pm.

December 2018

The Surrey Performing Arts Library and its proposed transfer to the charity NewSPAL

Following the move of the Surrey Performing Arts Library collection to Ewell Library in September, NewSPAL, a newly formed charity, have been working on their business plan for taking over the collection.

September 2018

As of 11 September the performing arts material has been successfully relocated from Surrey Performing Arts Library to its new home in Ewell Library, and Ewell Library is open once again. Library users are now able to browse and borrow the material from its new location.

This web site has been updated to reflect the move of the material and services to Ewell Library.

August 2018

Surrey Performing Arts Library has now closed its doors while the material is being relocated to its new home in Ewell Library.

Both Surrey Performing Arts and Ewell Libraries closed on 11 August to begin this project.

The planned relocation of the dance, drama, film and music collections to Ewell Library is now in progress and service will resume there at 9.30am on Tuesday 11 September 2018.

Please see below for the what this might mean for library users.

This web site is being updated to reflect the move of the material and services to Ewell Library.

July 2018

Since mid-2017, the Library service has been looking at how we can protect provision of material to support the performing arts throughout Surrey.

Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) has been based in Denbies wine estate for many years. The more stringent financial situation that Surrey County Council faces means we have been working with several organisations to look at the future of SPAL. In March 2018 a charity, NewSPAL, was formed to investigate the possibility of taking on the operational responsibility for SPAL. After discussions at Surrey County Council meetings in November 2017 and February 2018, on 26 June 2018 the Cabinet approved the following recommendations.

  1. NewSPAL, a new charitable body, is invited and supported to prepare a comprehensive business plan to take on operational responsibility for SPAL
  2. That a report on the NewSPAL business plan be brought to Cabinet for decision in the Autumn 2018.

While the NewSPAL proposal is worked up in greater detail, to ensure the effectiveness, coherence and continuity of the service the collection will be relocated to Ewell Library. It is estimated that the relocation could be actioned by August 2018.

We will be keeping group and individual customers registered with Surrey Performing Arts Library informed of progress.

What happens now?

We are now planning the relocation of the dance, drama, film and music collections to Ewell Library and working hard to minimise disruption to users both of Surrey Performing Arts and Ewell Libraries.

At the same time we will be supporting NewSPAL by providing its trustees with technical advice and guidance where necessary to assist their development of a sustainable business plan. That plan will be submitted circa September 2018 for review and decision by Cabinet. The county council will not be making a financial contribution to the charity for set up or transitional costs.

In the event that the NewSPAL business plan is approved, after a transition period, Surrey County Council would have no financial responsibility for SPAL.

What does this mean for Ewell Library users?

You will find a new look library as the new stock is put in place. The layout is currently being finalised and you may see a change in the location of the self-service machines and a slight change of place for your favourite books. Pebble Rhymetime and other regular events will continue in the new layout.

Your choice of books in dance, drama, film and music will be hugely increased. If you are an amateur dramatic or play reading group, orchestra or choir you will be able to browse through hundreds of titles.

To fit in this remarkable material we will, however, have to close Ewell Library from 5pm, 11 August to 9:30am, 11 September.

What does this mean for Surrey Performing Arts Library users?

If you collect/return at a Surrey or West Sussex Library then your service will remain the same. If you usually collect/return at Denbies, then you may wish to do that at Ewell Library or choose another Surrey or West Sussex library as your new collection/return point.

We are asking groups to reserve their material now and collect before 1 August to make sure they have everything they need for their rehearsals in August and September. Performing Arts Library will be closed from 1pm, 11 August.

The way you contact the library may change. Some online systems will remain, so you can join and tell us about any change in group representatives. Unfortunately we will not be taking requests for music or play sets until 18 September, whilst the material and service is moved to Ewell Library. You can browse the stock at Ewell Library. To speak with us by telephone, you will need to go through our Contact Centre. If you have questions about this please email