Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Principal Librarian (copy enclosed) detailing the Council’s performance in relation to the 6th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2017 – 2020 (extended for 2020 – 2021) and progress in developing libraries as places of individual and community wellbeing and resilience.

10.40 am – 11.10 am


Councillor Tony Thomas, Lead Member for Housing and Communities introduced the report by the Principal Librarian (previously circulated) detailing the Council’s performance in relation to the 6th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2017 – 2020 (extended for 2020 – 2021) and progress in developing libraries as places of individual and community wellbeing and resilience.


Councillor Thomas reminded the Committee that library authorities in Wales had a statutory duty to deliver a comprehensive and efficient service to its residents and the report compared Denbighshire’s performance against the national standard.  He commended the valuable service provided in Denbighshire which had also been heavily impacted by Covid-19 and took the opportunity to thank staff for their excellent service during difficult times, noting staff had been redeployed at an early stage in the pandemic to commence the proactive calling of residents.  The performance data for 2020 – 21 included 12 core entitlements which Denbighshire continued to meet, together with 6 quality indicators for which a self-assessment had been carried out and detailed in the report.  A number of interesting and informative case studies had also been provided on service activity.


The Head of Communities and Customers highlighted the success of the library service and how service provision had been adapted in line with the changing Covid alert levels and to operate in the modern world, citing the 166% increase in digital downloads during the first lockdown as an illustrative example.  She referred to the tremendous work being carried out in the library service which had been reflected in the positive report but recognised the work required going forward to build community capacity and cohesion in which the library service had a key role. 


During debate the Committee welcomed the positive report and recognised the importance of the library service to residents’ wellbeing and the valuable contribution made within communities.  Members provided examples of service provision in their individual ward areas and commended the initiatives and range of services provided, including work with partners, and thanked all the staff involved.


The Lead Member, Head of Communities and Customers and Principal Librarian responded to questions as follows –


·         in line with general levels of town centre footfall, library visits had not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels and that situation had been mirrored across Wales; work was being carried out to re-engage with schools and welcome back partner service provision/group activities in libraries to increase attendance; it was also recognised that people needed to rebuild their confidence to re-engage with different services/facilities in their communities

·         it was acknowledged that the library service was more than just a building and physical visits, with people using libraries in very different ways as evidenced by the digital access to services including the Order and Collect Service

·         the memory bags to support people living with dementia were borrowed in the same way as a library book and had been very popular; funding had also recently been received to start a collection of jigsaws for people living with dementia and it was hoped that they would prove just as popular

·         the financial contribution by Rhuddlan Town Council and St. Asaph City Council to their local libraries together with the partnership working and shared vision for libraries working within communities had made those libraries so successful – the Chair suggested there may be merit in progressing that partnership approach to support local libraries in other towns/communities across the county

·         whilst there had been a decrease in the take up of the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge it continued to be an extremely successful scheme and Denbighshire continued to perform well and further work had been planned with schools, particularly given the importance of reading to education and wellbeing

·         the reduction in staffing levels had been carried out in such a way as to minimise any impact on library users and customer feedback had been closely monitored with no negative feedback; the service would continue to use its resources in the most effective way possible for the benefit of residents

·         levels of use in terms of visits and borrowing were slowly increasing and further services were due to reopen the following week, as restrictions eased, and it was difficult to make comparisons pre-pandemic given the changes over the last two years and people’s behaviours; all had a responsibility to help to rebuild people’s confidence to re-engage within their communities and there was a clear message that the library was a welcoming and safe place to visit.


The Chief Executive had been pleased to hear the positive feedback on the library service and set the future challenge as to what more could be done to embed those excellent facilities to improve the lives of residents.  In closing the Chair again paid tribute to the excellent service provided and work of the staff involved in that regard.


The Committee –


RESOLVED that, subject to the above observations –


(a)       to acknowledge the efforts of the county’s libraries to adapt and deliver an excellent service to Denbighshire residents during the Covid-19 pandemic;


(b)       to receive and note the information provided on the Library Service’s performance in delivering against the 6th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards during 2020/21 along with the update on developments to date during 2021/22, and


(c)       to request that a further report on the Service’s performance in delivering against the Welsh Public Library Standards during 2021/22 be submitted to the Committee in January 2023.

At this point (11.17 am) the meeting adjourned for a short break.


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