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Agenda Item No 5

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee: 14th November 2016

 

Report of the Interim Director of Learning and Skills

 

Welsh Public Library Standards Assessment 2015-2016

Purpose of the Report

  1. To recommend the endorsement of the Annual Return for 2015-2016 submitted to Welsh Government.
  2. To inform Members of the feedback on the Library and Information Service performance for 2015-2016 received from Welsh Government.

Recommendations

  1. That Members endorse the Annual Return 2015-2016 submitted to Welsh Government.
  2. That Members note the performance of the Library and Information Service in relation to the Welsh Public Library Standards framework.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To comply with the requirements of the Welsh Government for formal approval of the Annual Return for 2015-2016
  2. To keep Members informed of performance and progress.

Background

  1. The Council is a Library Authority under the terms of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and as such has a statutory duty to 'provide a comprehensive and efficient library service'. The Welsh Public Library Standards were introduced by Welsh Government in September 2002 as a common performance assessment framework for public library services in Wales. The standards serve to some extent as an interpretation of the Public Libraries and Museums Act and a means by which Welsh Government can assess whether local authorities are complying with their duties under the 1964 Act. The aim is to provide information on the performance of public library services across Wales, improve the consistency of services, drive improvements in services and to identify any underlying factors affecting performance.
  2. The Welsh Public Library Standards are reviewed and updated by Welsh Government on a three year cycle. The annual return submitted for 2015-16 is the second report of the fifth framework which operates from April 2014 to March 2017. In setting targets and areas of reporting, the Fifth Framework has taken into account the financial difficulties affecting Councils yet also still sets some aspirational targets.
  3. The standards in the fifth framework are made up of 18 core entitlements and 16 quality indicators grouped around 4 core service themes, which are:
  • customers and communities;
  • access for all;
  • learning for life; and
  • leadership and development.
  1. The report to Welsh Government for 2015-2016 reflects the first phase of changes made as a result of the libraries review. These include changes to opening hours at main libraries from June 2015 and staggered changes to staffing during the year as a number of staff left the service. The full annual implications of all changes, including the transfer of libraries to the community, will not be evident in the standards return until the report for 2017-2018.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Library Standards Report for 2015-16 (attached at Appendix 1 & 2) is completed using a template provided by Welsh Government and requires sufficient information to enable the assessors to evaluate performance and identify factors that may impact on performance. The report is submitted to Welsh Government in July of each year. The first part of the report, (pages1-11) relates to core entitlements and the second part (pages1-8) relate to quality indicators.
  2. The annual assessment report from Welsh Government on the library service's performance in 2015-16 is to be found in Appendix 3. The report summarises and comments on the library standards report and confirms that the Vale of Glamorgan Library and Information Service met 17 of the 18 core entitlements in full and 1 in part. It also met 5 of the 7 quality indicators in full, 1 in part and failed to achieve 1. This contrasts to the 7 met in full during the previous year and the difference is accounted for by a reduction in opening times and a reduction in staffing.
  3. The quality indicator related to staffing levels and qualifications is WPLSQI 13. It reflects the changes in staffing required to meet the operational needs of the service, given new opening hours and preparations for the establishment of community libraries. A number of library assistant and qualified librarian posts were removed from the establishment and this accounts for both the overall staff target and the qualified librarian targets not being achieved per 10,000 population. Staff changes during the year and the priority given to embedding the new structure also meant that the staff training target was not met during 2016-2016. Although the target has not been met for staffing, in common with many library services, the staffing levels and structure have proved to be appropriate for the service.
  4. The quality indicator related to opening hours is WPLSQI 16. The target for opening hours is 120 hours per annum per 1,000 resident population. A reduction of 41 hours per week since June 2015 means that opening hours in the Vale were only 112 hours per annum per 1,000 population. Though the target is no longer met the opening hours do reflect the previous pattern of library use, the outcome of the public consultation and the operational needs of the service. To address the issue of access however the library service will be implementing a new initiative to give access to libraries outside normal opening hours utilising the Open+ system. The system is currently being installed at Barry library and is expected to be operational from January 2017. It will enable library users to access the building outside of staffed hours. Consideration will be given to whether the system should be extended to other libraries in due course.
  5. The annual assessment report provides a rank position for the Vale of Glamorgan against other library authorities in Wales in relation to some of the quality performance indicators. The Vale of Glamorgan ranked 1st on expenditure per capita and 2nd on cost per visit, though only 11th on staff costs per capita. The fact that the Vale of Glamorgan maintained the 1st ranking on expenditure, despite a reduction in expenditure, can be accounted for partly by the further reduction in expenditure which many other library authorities also received. It is also worth noting that the costs reported here do not take account of the full impact of staff changes nor the impact relating to the establishment of community libraries.
  6. The Vale of Glamorgan has some very positive rank positions in relation to customers and usage, including total visits per capita (6th busiest in Wales), active borrowers per capita (6th) and virtual visits to the library website and online services (11th). The Vale of Glamorgan also had the 10th highest number of active volunteers and the 12th highest number of volunteer hours recorded. These consist of the volunteer hours spent supporting the home borrower service, the mobile pop-up service and a digitisation project, they do not relate to community library volunteers. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Vale of Glamorgan is 1 of only 4 services to meet the target for acquisition of new stock and has improved in meeting the target on the supply of requests.
  7. Though the annual assessment report on the Vale of Glamorgan Library Service points out the loss of some targets which were previously achieved, it nevertheless finds many positive aspects about the service and notes several improvements.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The library service will complete implementation of its savings plans following establishment of the community libraries.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council is a Library Authority under the terms of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and as such has a statutory duty to 'provide a comprehensive and efficient library service'. The Public Library Standards provide a framework within which to evaluate the performance of the service and to secure continuous improvement.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The standards address issues relating to equality of access to the Library and Information Service, compliance with disability legislation and the provision of books and other materials in the Welsh language.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Library and Information Service contributes towards the achievement of the Wellbeing outcome: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The Library and Information Service consults with its users through regular user surveys arranged in accordance with a national framework of Public Library User Surveys.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Learning and Culture.

Background Papers

Libraries making a difference: The fifth quality framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2014-2017. CyMAL, Welsh Government 2014

Contact Officer

Christopher Edwards, Principal Librarian

Officers Consulted

Phil Southard, Culture and Community Learning Manager

Responsible Officer:

Paula Ham, Interim Director of Learning and Skills