Agenda item

Agenda item

LIBRARY SERVICES

To consider a report by the Principal Librarian / Customer Service Business Partner, which outlines the Library Service’s performance against Welsh Government’s Framework of Public Library Standards 2014-17, and considers this in the context of Denbighshire’s new Face to Face Customer Service Delivery Framework, had been circulated previously.

                                                                                                          11.30 a.m.

 

Minutes:

A copy of a joint report by the Principal Librarian (PL) and the Customer Service Business Partner (CSBP), which outlined the Library Service’s performance against the Welsh Government’s Framework of Public Library Standards 2014-17, and seeking the Committee to consider this in the context of Denbighshire’s new Face to Face Customer Service Delivery Framework, had been circulated with the papers for the meeting.

 

Details of the statutory duties of Library Authorities in Wales had had been outlined in the report, particular reference being made to the requirements of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.  The Frameworks of Welsh Public Library Standards enabled MALD (Museums Archives and Libraries Division of Welsh Government, previously CyMAL) to measure and assess how Authorities were fulfilling their statutory duties.  The Fifth Framework had been launched on the 1st May, 2014.

 

The Lead Member for Customers and Communities introduced the report on the WG’s Assessment of the Library Service’s performance for 2014/15, which also informed members of the work undertaken and planned with a view to developing libraries into community hubs.  The Principal Librarian detailed the report’s contents with respect to the Library Service’s performance against WG standards, whilst the Customer Service Business Partner explained the work in relation to developing libraries into community hubs and the Framework associated with that work.

 

Members were advised that:-

 

·                      17 out of the 18 Core Entitlements in the Frameworks of Welsh Public Library Standards had been met, the only one not achieved related to the availability of the Service’s Strategy and Vision.  This had not been met because the Service, as part of the Freedoms and Flexibilities process had been restructuring.  This final core entitlement would be met by March 2016 as the vision would be available in bilingual format on-line and printed by then;

·                      With respect to the Quality Indictors (QI) contained in the Standards Framework, and listed in the report, the Council had only partially met the QI relating to access to up-to-date reading materials and would not be meeting it in the current year either.  The Council was not unduly worried about this as book loans across the county was high, which in itself was an indicator that the Service was purchasing what readers wanted to read;

·                      The QI relating to appropriate spend on reading materials had also only been partially met – this was due to the County taking the approach to give priority to purchasing books for children.  The Council was spending above the WG target on children’s books with a view to improving basic reading and literacy skills, and was pursuing this approach during the current year.  Officials had met with the WG’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism to emphasise this approach;

·                      Another QI which had only been partially met was the one relating to staffing levels and qualifications – this would be looked at again in the light of the staffing restructure to see what could be met in relation to the QI; and

·                      The new Framework should help the Council to achieve quality indicators relating to web pages and customer take-up of ICT services.

 

Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member and officers advised that:-

 

·                      The fund for purchasing reading materials for 2014/15 was £160K;

·                      The new Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD) Framework was rather prescriptive and focussed too much on inputs rather than on outputs, outcomes and benefits for citizens, which was what Denbighshire’s Library Service wanted to concentrate on;

·                      Meetings had been held with both the WG’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism and the Director of MALD with respect to the prescriptive nature of the Framework Standards, and both had indicated their full support to Denbighshire for its approach to widening the range of services offered within libraries and turning them into community hubs;

·                      The WG could not withhold funding to the library service on the basis that it was not meeting all required indicators, if the Service could prove that it was delivering services which residents wanted and valued;

·                      They were confident that Wi-fi would be available in all of the county’s libraries by the end of March 2016.  Officers had also asked that the Service be included as part of the Nova Wi-fi pilot;

·                      Officers from the Library Service met on a regular basis with Education Service staff, they would also in the near future be meeting with Youth Service staff, with a view to supporting post 16 and Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) initiatives;

·                      Under the ‘Face to Face Customer Service Framework’ the Council was aiming to provide consistent service delivery to all its customers, via their preferred service delivery method e.g. face to face, telephone, electronic, self-service;

·                      The staffing re-structure, recruitment of other staff combined with a focussed training programme would ensure that all staff were equipped with the necessary skills to deliver all services available at the ‘hubs’;

·                      Staff ‘floor-walked’ on a regular basis to ensure that customers were not waiting long for assistance;

·                      Following the recent refurbishment of Rhyl Library there was now a Police desk at the Library and two members of the Revenues and Benefits staff were located there working in partnership with the Job Centre assisting people to apply for the new Universal Credit on-line.  The CAB was also holding periodic surgeries at the Library;

·                      In Rhuddlan work was underway with the Town Council with a view to replicating a similar model to the one in Rhyl, but with more of a community hub emphasis i.e. permitting local groups to meet in the library building;

·                      In Denbigh discussions were taking place with Communities First officers with a view to them utilising the Library building, this would enable the Council to apply for specific grants available to Communities First organisations for modifying the building.  Despite the fact that the actual Library building was outside the Communities First area in the town, the organisation was of the view that is was the most appropriate building in the area to deliver their services;

·                      For the purpose of future proofing the service each location was being assessed based on its capacity and potential uses in order to optimise their utilisation.

 

Members congratulated the Service on their performance and on its vision for the future, which was particularly heartening at a time when a number of local authorities were discussing closing a number of their libraries.

 

RESOLVED – that, subject to the above observations, to receive the Welsh Government’s Assessment of the Library Service’s 2014/15 performance, support Denbighshire’s response and approach to delivering the services particularly in the context of the new Customer Service Delivery Framework, and endorse the Council’s customer focused approach to delivering services to the community.

 

Supporting documents:

 

 
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