Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Principal Librarian (copy enclosed) which highlights the Library Service’s performance against national standards.


10:05am – 10:35am


In the absence of the Lead Member for Developing Community Infrastructure the Head of Communications, Customers and Marketing introduced the Principal Librarian’s report (previously circulated) which outlined the Library Service’s performance against national standards and updated the Committee on developments within the service in Denbighshire and on a regional basis.  Attached to the report as appendices were copies of the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Division’s (MALD) formal assessment of the county’s library service for 2016-17 (Appendix A ) and the Council’s revised charging policy for using library spaces for activities (Appendix B).


During her introduction the Head of Service informed the Committee that Denbighshire’s Library Service had met 17 of the 18 Core Entitlements during the 2016-17 year, as it had throughout the term of the 5th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards (from 2014-2017).  She advised that Denbighshire welcomed the inclusion in the 6th Welsh Public Library Standards Framework, from 2017 – 2020, of a quality indicator relating to the libraries’ performance in supporting health and well-being. 


Details were shared with members of the current refurbishment works nearing completion at St Asaph library, the refurbishment programme funded through a MALD grant at Denbigh Library, and the work to replace the roof at Rhyl Library.  Members were also briefed on the increased use of libraries for the purpose of delivering community services by the Council and by partner organisations, all of which supported the wider health and well-being work of the various organisations.  The Library Service’s revised charging policy for the use of library space for arranged activities, introduced in January 2018 for new bookings and applied to regular group bookings from April 2018, offered free use of library spaces for community benefit, a discounted rate for community groups and registered charities, with only commercial/private bookings or profit making groups being subject to full hire charges.  Details were also shared of the regional and national collaboration work taking place between county library services for the purpose of realising efficiencies, supporting and enhancing the delivery of the health and well-being  offer, increasing the range of reading material available to users and the medium of its availability i.e. books, e-books, e-audio books etc.


Responding to members’ questions the Head of Service and the Principal Librarian advised that:

·         Rhuddlan Library was currently open on Saturday mornings due to the temporary closure of St Asaph Library for refurbishment.  Staff from St Asaph Library operated the Saturday morning opening at Rhuddlan.  If members and residents were keen for Rhuddlan to remain open on Saturday mornings following the re-opening of St Asaph library financial resources would need to be secured  to achieve this, one option would be to approach Rhuddlan Town Council to seek further financial support;

·         at present only two city, town or community councils provided financial support to the County Council for the provision of library services in their area, they were St Asaph City Council and Rhuddlan Town Council. St Asaph City Council decided on an annual basis whether it would provide financial support to the Council’s Library Service.  Having regard to the prospect of diminishing financial resources for the provision of services in the medium to long-term the Library Service may consider approaching all city, town and community councils for financial support in order to secure the delivery of services in future years;

·         they would enquire with the Council’s Building Services Department regarding who was liable for the costs of the maintenance currently being undertaken on the roof of Rhuddlan’s library building;

·         despite the fact that the a number of the Quality Indicators (QIs) focused on non-book related services and whilst libraries were expanding the community based aspect of its services and promoting the availability of IT services at libraries, the Service’s core business remained the lending of books and reading materials.  Regional and national collaboration work across library services ensured the availability of the widest possible choice of reading materials for service users.  If books were not held by the county’s Library Service they could be requested from elsewhere in Wales and could be made available to the person who ordered them within a week or so, dependent upon where in Wales the copy was held when the request was received;

·         figures would be provided to the Committee on the number of book loans in Denbighshire during the current year in comparison to previous years;

·         whilst the County had not operated a mobile Library Service for a number of years it continued to operate a Home Library Service for residents who were unable to physically visit a library due to ill health or disability.  Between 200 and 300 people currently utilised this service and the Library Service had an ambition to roll its availability out to carers in the near future;

·         it was anticipated that the rollout of Universal Credit (UC) to a large part of Denbighshire in April 2018 would have an impact on libraries and staff.  As yet the full extent of the impact was unquantified.  The Principal Librarian was a member of the Council’s Universal Credit Board, the Board which was working across Council Services and with partners such as Citizens Advice Denbighshire (CAD) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in an attempt to manage the impact of the introduction of UC in Denbighshire and support residents with the application process.  Members were advised that CAD would be the resident’s the initial point of contact for support with UC claims or enquiries, OPUS would also be providing assistance to people applying and receiving UC with regards to developing essential skills, whilst the DWP would provide retrospective funding to the Council and others for support provided to UC claimants.  The Scrutiny Co-ordinator advised that Communities Scrutiny Committee had an item on the potential impact of the introduction of UC on the Council and residents on its forward work programme for its meeting in May 2018;

·         the use of volunteers to deliver library services had to be managed extremely carefully as their use could cause concern and discontentment amongst qualified library staff.  Opportunities for using volunteers for the purpose of supporting library staff and to add value could be explored.  Work was currently underway with a view to drawing-up a student work experience programme that would maximise the value and benefit of the experience for the student and for the service alike;

·         a marketing strategy for the County’s libraries would be developed in due course;

·         the Library Service in Denbighshire worked closely with the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth i.e. via the all-Wales procurement contract, highlighting to Denbighshire’s library members the availability to them of free remote access to the National Library’s electronic resources; and

·         income generated from hiring library spaces to external users was paid into the Library Service’s general budget.  The income generated was not excessive and as the level of income fluctuated on a month by month basis it could not be guaranteed and therefore used for budget-setting purposes.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee congratulated the Council on keeping its libraries open and on developing them into community hubs.  Members also congratulated Library Service staff across the county on their dedication and the quality of service they provided to library users.  The Committee:


Resolved: - subject to the above observations to –


(i)            commend the Library Service on its performance against the 5th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards; and

(ii)          request that a progress report be presented to the Committee at its November 2018 meeting on the Service’s performance against the 6th Framework 2017-2020



Supporting documents:


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