Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report (copy attached) by the Head of Communities and Customers and Principal Librarian, which provides information regarding performance in relation to the 6th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2017-20 and seeks the Committee’s observations on the progress made in developing libraries as places of individual and community well-being and resilience.


11.40 a.m. – 12.20 p.m.


The Chair welcomed Councillor Emrys Wynne, Lead Member for Welsh Language, Culture and Heritage along with Liz Grieve Head of Communities and Customer Services and Bethan Hughes, Principal Librarian.


The Lead Member thanked the Committee for extending an invitation to scrutinise the Library Service Standards and Performance and introduced the report to members (previously circulated). The purpose of the report was for the Committee to scrutinise 2021-22 performance and standards of libraries in Denbighshire. He also guided members through Appendix 2 which related to information on the current performance for 2022-23.


Members heard information on the progress made to develop libraries as welfare hubs. The statutory duty placed on every library in Wales was to have a library service to provide a comprehensive and efficient service to residents. The Welsh Government measured and assessed how each local authority fulfilled that duty. Following the Covid pandemic the requirements for reporting for 2021-22 had been changed to recognise the restrictions on the service. Members heard the narrative report was significantly delayed and was due for publication in March 2023. It was therefore not possible to include it in full with this report. The service had received an early draft and selected comments were included in the papers.


This report reflected on the data submitted by Denbighshire in relation to 2021-22, on performance against 12 Core Entitlement and 6 Quality indicators, with some commentary on the performance by the Welsh Government Culture Division assessors. It was highlighted to the Committee Denbighshire continued to meet all 12 Core Entitlements.


The library provision contributed to a number of the Corporate themes including; Healthier Denbighshire, a County that grows and improves, a well-connected County, a fair and more equal County, a County of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language and a well-run, high performing council.


The Lead Member highlighted the successful completion of the Summer Reading Challenge across Denbighshire Libraries. It illustrated a significant increase in the use of the service.  Members were made aware that each library in Denbighshire had improved digital services for local residents to make use of. Services including the One Stop Shops which were operating from libraries across the County. 


The Head of Communities and Customer Services added that the Welsh Library Standards were a great opportunity for the Library Service to attend scrutiny to present the performance of the service for debate. She was pleased to say libraries had recovered well following the closures through the Covid Pandemic. She offered her thanks to library staff for the dedication they all portrayed during the pandemic to continue to offer a professional and supportive role to residents.


The Principal Librarian concluded by informing the Committee the framework enabled the service to measure and show the effect the service had on residents in the community. The framework was currently being revised and was likely to be more aspirational in the coming years. She encouraged members to attend their local library to observe what had taken place.


The Chair thanked the Lead Member and officers for the detailed introduction and the papers that had been provided to accompany the report.


Members congratulated the service for what they offer to residents. The services provided offered support and guidance to residents and libraries became more community hubs.


In response to members’ comments and questions the Lead Member along with the officers expanded on the following:

·         There was no target set for predicted growth in active members, however all advertising and marketing was in partnership with a range of partners and services. Part of that partnership was for those groups to encourage individuals to join the library. 

·         The service offered a digital service for individuals who were unable to access the library during some opening time. Members heard a number of libraries offered Saturday opening times. 

·         It was anticipated that the digital offer would continue to increase during forthcoming years.

·         The digital service was on an all Wales with members able to access the shared national pool of resources. A lot of regional working across North Wales was seen, especially with the shared catalogue of books. This resulted in a wider range of stock being offered to users.

·         As part of the Service’s income generation efforts a number of spaces were rented to third parties. This offered an additional service to residents such as banking needs, areas to hold educational events, community welfare events such as Dementia Clubs etc.

·         A programme of marketing was currently in place to promote the Service and its offer. A monthly press release demonstrating new aspects of the service had been observed during this year. Social media was used extensively to promote libraries and what was on offer to communities.

·         Particular partnerships with some City, Town and Community Councils were in place in certain areas of the authority. Financial contributions were made towards the running of the local library. These allowed groups to meet and hold regular meetings in the community.

·         There was a statutory requirement to offer a library service, and although there was no directive on what that service entailed, the Welsh Public Library Standards offer a means of interpreting the statutory requirement.

·         The removal of the fines in libraries had taken place in 2022. An increase in library use and visitors had been observed although there was no evidence to link that to the removal of fines.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee thanked the Principal Librarian and all Library Service staff in Denbighshire for the excellent range and quality of services they provided for residents, and:


Resolved:  subject to the above observations to –


(i)   receive the report and congratulate the county’s Library Service on its performance in delivering against the 6th Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards during 2021/22; and

(ii) request that a further report on the Service’s performance against the Standards during 2022/23, and outlining its progress in developing libraries as places of individual and community well-being and resilience in line with the Council’s corporate themes and with a view to supporting the delivery of the Corporate Plan be presented to the Committee at its meeting in January 2024.


Supporting documents: