Winning the award for the best annual report and accounts in the public and
voluntary sector is getting to be a bit of a habit for the British Library,
which won the award in 2005 and again in 2006. In some ways, the only surprise
may be that it didn’t win last year.
Finance chiefs at the library will not be kicking themselves, though – three
wins in four years isn’t bad going. So what was so good about its reporting this
‘The British Library’s annual report makes outstanding use of video to convey
what it is doing and stood out a mile,’ the judges said.
Probably the key feature of the report is its attempt to appeal to a
generation reared on YouTube and the BBC’s iPlayer. The annual report is a fully
interactive experience. Users of the library and staff appear on videos to
convey what the library is doing and achieving. The chair and chief executive
both appear, with videos featuring animated charts highlighting the library’s
performance against key performance indicators.
The print version of the report makes clear that readers may wish to see
those videos online – in its first paragraph it talks of the online version
bringing ‘the story to life’.
Each year, the library publishes an action plan to its six key ‘strategic
priorities’. It then reports on the progress made on those priorities in the
next year’s report. Viewers online can easily flip back between last year’s
claims and this year’s achievements, making the library clearly accountable for
what it is promising.
Signed, sealed and delivered
One particularly strong feature brings to life the British Library’s
Corporate Social responsibility agenda. One book conservator learned British
Sign Language, supported by the HR department, to better communicate with two
deaf colleagues. A video case study features under the ‘Developing’ section of
the annual report. You can see the annual report online at the website of the
library, at www.bl.uk/knowledge.
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