Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service (NPALS) has taken centre stage in the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres, UK & Ireland (IAML) Awards.

It has won the Excellence Award for Music Libraries 2019 for its innovative work to provide music and drama groups with an outstanding, cost-effective regional loans service for music scores and play scripts.

Delivery Co-Ordinator Jude Paton has also won the Personal Achievement Award 2019.  The judges said: “Jude has been instrumental to the success of NPALS, developing its revolutionary library management system and her commitment to her job, going above and beyond the call of duty and initiating some interesting developments is admirable.”

Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service is a showcase project for both Nottingham and Leicester city councils, which worked together to transform two subsidised music and drama library services into a single sustainable one, supporting amateur groups across the region.

The service was launched in January 2016 and has brought many benefits, including a wider range of stock and 24-7 online ordering and payment, thanks to a bespoke IT system developed in-house – the first fully-integrated online music library IT system in the UK. Music and drama groups were offered training to help them with the new system, which allows them to reserve sets up to a year in advance.

More than 6,200 titles and 110,000 copies of music scores and play scripts have been brought together in an enormous former store room at Radford-Lenton Library. In the first year, 222 groups registered and 11,128 issues were made. That has now increased to 291 groups and 14,946 issues.

Other councils are interested in adopting the model for their own performing arts library services and it’s hoped that it could form the basis of a larger regional or national network of Performing Arts Libraries in the future.

Nigel Hawkins, Head of Culture and Libraries, Nottingham City Council, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in this award-winning service, particularly Jude. NPALS is a winner in every respect. It has been well-received by music and drama groups, who appreciate the wider choice of stock, flexibility of ordering and the attention given to good customer service.

“It’s also cost-effective – forecast to break even within two years, generating enough income to cover ongoing capital costs and paying back its capital investment over five years.”

NPALS has been welcomed by groups from all over the region, with comments such as:

“We value enormously what you and all your staff do for us”

“I find the service very easy to use on the computer and everyone very friendly and helpful at the library.”

“It’s always good to have your friendly help and support. Keep up the good work.”