Agenda item

Libraries Update Report

Please find attached a report from Kate Murray (Head of Libraries)

Minutes:

The Head of Libraries stated that the report outlined the principles which had been set out in the Cabinet report and provided a complete overview of ongoing work.

 

Councillors made the following comments:

 

(1)        Whilst this report was an improvement on the one that had been submitted to the Planning Meeting, this was nevertheless a report looking back/ still ”treading water”. More future options for the service were required as well as further detail concerning the impact of budget cuts;

(2)        Further information was required on the impact in certain areas such as Library Development workers. It also needed to be clear if these proposals would help to solve the difficulties faced across the city;

(3)        There was no indication of how gaps in service provision would be filled;

(4)        The review did not recognise the constraints within which the Council operated ie that the review had been required due to budget cuts;

(5)        Since the introduction of revised opening hours, in some areas all libraries were open at the same time rather than being co-ordinated;

(6)        In relation to the 7 day service, some staff had been required to work Sundays despite not wanting to do so and despite the lack of demand for the service on this day, As confirmed by a recent Freedom of Information request;

(7)        A different form of service might be required in certain areas ie Community Asset Transfer (CAT) but that this must be done through the Council. Also, if libraries were not run successfully in the community, the possibility of the Council retaking control needed to be considered;

(8)        Access to libraries was very important – a sensible strategy to deal with the issue of opening hours was required;

(9)        The Corporate Plan needed to give an indication of the impact of the responses to  the libraries consultation process and may need further consultation since the situation had now changed;

(10)      It would be helpful to give an indication of when the proposed changes will be known;

(11)      Volunteering – until the issue of paid and unpaid staff provision had been properly looked at, local library provision could not change.

 

In response to Councillors’ comments, officers made the following points:

 

(12)      It was still too early in the process to assess the different range of options required to make a very big budget saving;

(13)      There were informal and formal friends groups operating in communities, some of which had become active when the future of some libraries had been threatened. These groups needed to be ready to support the future role of libraries;

(14)      There were significant Savings required for Year 2 and 3 for libraries, parks and Neighbourhood Partnerships. A budget consultation was taking place and there was likely to be a further service consultation post April 2017 involving all citizens

(15)      The approach taken by the Council not to close any libraries means that resources were stretched thin – future discussions concerning the service were required to avoid a “one size fits all” service;

(16)      The Citizens’ Panel results will be available in early December 2016 to assist in the process;

(17)      No Freedom of Information request had been received so far;

(18)      Every library had now been updated to 100 megabit speed;

(19)      Volunteering – the Council decision had been clear that volunteers would not be replacing staff in libraries. A Sub-Group of the Neighbourhood Partnerships was looking at the network of provision across the city and its implications

 

In response to a question, the Head of Libraries confirmed that she would provide Councillor Jon Wellington with information concerning the number of books borrowed at libraries on how statistics were recorded and collected on issues and visits

 

Action: Kate Murray

 

 

Supporting documents: