THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 11TH JANUARY, 2016
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 7TH DECEMBER, 2015
" WELSH PUBLIC LIBRARY STANDARDS ASSESSMENT 2014-2015 (DLS) -
The Scrutiny Committee was requested to endorse the Annual Report for 2014-15 that had been submitted to Welsh Government (WG) and consider the feedback on the Library and Information Service performance for 2014-15 which had been received from WG with any comments to be referred to Cabinet .
In presenting the report the Lead Officer for Youth and Community Learning stated that the Standards served to some extent as an interpretation of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the means by which WG could assess how Local Authorities were complying with their duties under the 1965 Act. The aim was 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.
The Welsh Public Library Standards were reviewed and updated by the WG on a three year cycle and the Annual Return submitted for 2014-15 was the first report of the Fifth Framework which operated from April 2014 to March 2017. The Standards for the Fifth Framework were made up of 18 core entitlements and 16 quality indicators grouped around four core service themes, being customer and communities, access for all, learning for life, and leadership and development.
The Library Standards Report for 2014-15 was attached as Appendices 1 and 2 to the report, with the report having been submitted to WG in July of each year.
The annual Assessment Report from WG on the Library Service's performance for 2014-15 was to be found at Appendix 3 to the report. The Assessment Report stated that the Vale of Glamorgan Library and Information Service met 17 of the 18 core entitlements in full and one in part. It also met all seven of the quality indicators which have actual targets, the only Authority in Wales to do so during the first year of the Framework. The relevant indicators with targets were set out on page 2 of Appendix 2 and included the Standards related to acquisition, provision and appropriateness of materials, also the Standards for online services, location of libraries, opening hours, staffing and individual development. The Standard for individual development related to ICT support, learning opportunities and activities provided to library users.
The annual Assessment Report for the first time provided a rank position for the Vale against other library authorities in Wales in relation to some of the quality performance indicators. The Vale ranked first in terms of total expenditure per capita, fourth on cost per visit and fifth on capital expenditure per capita (based on the refurbishment costs at Llantwit Major Library). Many of these costs were related to overheads at Barry library and had since been addressed as part of the library strategy. The data in relation to costs was expected to change for 2015-16. The Vale had positive rank positions in relation to customers, including total visits per capita (fourth busiest in Wales), active borrowers per capita (sixth) and virtual visits to the library website and online services (eighth). The Vale also had the seventh highest number of active volunteers and the ninth highest number of volunteer hours recorded. These consisted of the volunteer hours spent supporting the home borrower service, the mobile pop-up service and a digitisation project.
Though the annual Assessment Report on the Vale of Glamorgan Library Service was generally positive, some comments had been made which Members were informed would be addressed in 2015-16. It was noted that the Library Service had not carried out an impact survey during 2014-15 due to consultation exercises held, nor had it undertaken an evaluation of attendees at training sessions who were helped to achieve their goals. Both these issues would be addressed in 2015-16.
A further comment related to elements of decline in relation to book issues and attendance at training sessions. The Library Service would be focusing on these issues during the current year by a more robust counting of training attendances which may have been undercounted, and by more promotional activities to encourage readers to take out books.
The Chairman enquired if officers were confident that service changes could be implemented post 1st April, 2016, taking account of the ongoing judicial process relating to Rhoose Library. Another Member referred to Sully Community's interest to adopt the Library but felt that they were unable to advance discussions with the Council until the situation had been resolved. In response, the Director indicated that the Council was keen to progress matters and to this end, it was expected that a report would be submitted to Cabinet in January, 2016 with a view to implementing an April timetable. The Leader also indicated that if Town and Community Councils wished to take on specific services they should submit such requests in writing.
In addition to the above, the Committee expressed their thanks to staff within the service and congratulated them on the performance achieved. The Committee acknowledged that these achievements had been made during a very challenging period for staff.
(1) T H A T the Annual Return 2014-15 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 comments of the Scrutiny Committee and 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 Return for 2014-15.
(2) In acknowledgement of performance and progress.
(3) To advise Cabinet."
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 7th December, 2015