Agenda Item No
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning] : 7 December 2015
Report of the Director of Learning and Skills
Welsh Public Library Standards Assessment 2014 - 2015
Purpose of the Report
- To endorse the Annual Return for 2014-15 submitted to the Welsh Government.
- To inform Members of the feedback on the Library and Information Service performance for 2014-15 received from the Welsh Government.
- That Members endorse the Annual Return 2014-15 submitted to the Welsh Government.
- That Members note the performance of the Library and Information Service in relation to the Welsh Public Library Standards framework.
- That the report be referred to Cabinet together with any comments from the Scrutiny Committee.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- To comply with the requirement of the Welsh Government for formal approval of the Annual Return for 2014-15.
- To keep Members informed of performance and progress.
- To advise Cabinet.
- 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 the 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.
- The Welsh Public Library Standards are reviewed and updated by the Welsh Government on a three year cycle. The Annual Return submitted for 2014-15 is the first 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 but it also still sets some aspirational targets.
- 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.
Relevant Issues and Options
- The Library Standards Report for 2014-15 is attached at Appendix 1 & Appendix 2. It is completed using a template provided by the 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 the Welsh Government in July of each year.
- The annual Assessment Report from the Welsh Government on the Library Service's performance in 2014-15 is to be found in Appendix 3. The Assessment Report states 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 all 7 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 are set out on page 2 of Appendix 2 and include 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 relates to ICT support, learning opportunities and activities provided to library users.
- The annual Assessment Report for the first time provides a rank position for the Vale against other library authorities in Wales in relation to some of the quality performance indicators. It is worth noting that that Vale ranked 1st in terms of total expenditure per capita, 4th on cost per visit and 5th 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 have since been addressed as part of the library strategy. The data in relation to costs is expected to change for 2015-16.
- The Vale has some very positive rank positions in relation to customers, including total visits per capita (4th busiest in Wales), active borrowers per capita (6th) and virtual visits to the library website and online services (8th). The Vale also had the 7th highest number of active volunteers and the 9th 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.
- Though the annual Assessment Report on the Vale of Glamorgan Library Service was generally positive, some comments were made which will be addressed in 2015-16. It is noted in the report that the Library Service did not carry out an impact survey during 2014-15 for instance, and nor did it undertake an evaluation of attendees at training sessions who were helped to achieve their goals. Both these issues will be addressed in 2015-16. Surveys are usually carried out in the autumn or early spring but given the consultation work undertaken during this same period in 2014-15 it was felt that an impact survey would not have been appropriate at the same time.
- A further comment relates to elements of decline in relation to book issues and attendance at training sessions. The Library Service will 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.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- The Library Service identified significant savings which it is in the process of implementing. Care has and will continue to be taken to minimise the impact of savings on front line services.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- There are no direct implications arising from this Report
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- 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
- There are no direct implications arising from this Report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- 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.
- The Library and Information Service contributes to a number of corporate objectives, especially in the areas of Community Leadership, Children and Young People, and Lifelong Learning and Skills.
Policy Framework and Budget
- This report falls within the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- 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
- Lifelong Learning
Libraries making a difference: The fifth quality framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2014-2017. CyMAL, Welsh Government 2014
Christopher Edwards, Chief Librarian
Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources
Andrew Borsden, Lead Officer Youth and Community Learning
Director of Learning and Skills