Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 14TH JANUARY, 2013
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 10TH DECEMBER, 2012
“ WELSH PUBLIC LIBRARY STANDARDS ASSESSMENT 2011-12 (CLSO) –
The Annual Return 2011-12 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and had been completed using a template provided by the Welsh Government (WG) required sufficient information to enable the assessors to evaluate performance and identify factors that may impact on that performance. The Annual Return was submitted to the WG in July of each year. It was of note that the Authority’s performance was comparable with other Authorities in Wales having achieved six of the nine Standards. The report highlighted that the service had partly achieved a further two Standards but had failed to achieve one Standard.
Of note was the impact of the withdrawal of the mobile library service as a result of the budgetary savings required for 2011-12 and 2012-13 which was reflected in reduced performance in a number of Standards and Performance Indicators in 2011-12. Specifically it had resulted in a reduction in the number of visits and issues as well as a reduction in the aggregate opening hours. However, the Assessment noted that the Service remained accessible to the vast majority of residents with the Standard for accessibility being still achieved. Aggregate opening hours also met the stipulated requirements with the Assessors noting that the introduction of the Home Borrower Service had alleviated the impact of the loss of the mobile library service for those unable to use static libraries. Recognition had also been given in the Assessment to the maintenance of expenditure levels on library books and other resources. This had resulted in good levels of performance in the Standards relating to library stock - WPLS5 - Annual Acquisition of books, WPLS6 - Stock Replenishment rates and WPLS7 - Speed of supply of requested items to library users.
Reference was however, made to the fact that the Authority still failed to achieve WPLS9 (floor area) and was unlikely to do so in the future as significant capital investment would be required to provide the additional floor areas in libraries in order to meet the Standard. During discussion reference was also made to Penarth and Llantwit Major libraries, which would benefit greatly from more space. It was commented on that the book stock in Penarth library was low. The Principal Librarian (Mr. C. Edwards) who was present at the meeting, pointed out that overall the Council performed well in terms of stock but acknowledged that lack of space in certain libraries resulted in high stock turnover and more limited choice for customers. More space would allow the bookstock to be increased by accommodating more shelving and display space. The Service would however, continue to seek opportunities to address these issues. The Principal Librarian advised that the Library Service provided a very good facility within the Vale although the size of the buildings was an issue but due, to budget constraints, extensions to properties were unlikely.
In referring to the resource implications, it was noted that performance in some areas was directly related to the level of investment in the Service. The Assessment had concluded that “There have been significant reductions in resources and withdrawal of services already and the impact of those decisions was already apparent. Any further reductions of a similar kind would be likely to have a more profound impact on the nature and the performance of the service”.
With regard to mobile provision Members requested that should any further discussion take place on the subject, a report should be presented to the Committee for consideration. The Head of Service advised that consideration was being given to working with Town and Community Councils but that further reports would be brought forward as appropriate.
Members on the Schools Surplus Project Group advised that following visits to a number of schools, concerns had been raised in relation to IT bandwidth service and whether the Library Service could assist. Mr. Edwards however, advised that speed was a problem in general and the Library service experienced the same problem in some areas.
In response to a query from the Local Member for Penarth as to whether the caretaker’s house could be brought into the library, Mr. Edwards advised that it was an idea that could be developed if grant funding was available. Committee also noted that Penarth was an extremely busy and popular library.
Having considered the report in was
(1) T H A T the Annual Return 2011-12 submitted to the Welsh Government be endorsed.
(2) T H A T the performance of the Library and Information Service in relation to the Welsh Public Library Standards Framework be noted.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To comply with the requirement of the Welsh Government for formal approval of the Annual Report for 2011-12.
(2) To keep Members informed of performance and progress.
(3) To advise Cabinet.”
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 10th December, 2012