Results of Kirklees Council Library Consultation
Our cabinet considered the results of the latest library consultation at their meeting on 21 August 2018.
Learning how people feel about our libraries
Earlier this year we asked a research agency to design a survey and find out how people felt about a range of issues facing libraries.
We wanted to know what they thought about where they are located, how they are run, and who should be responsible for them.
What is a library?
The consultation showed that whilst 86% of people think borrowing books is one of the most important functions of a library. However, it is clear that this is not all they are about. Libraries were also seen as places to meet and as providing important access to IT services.
Where should a library be?
51% of people who responded to the survey supported the idea of libraries sharing space with other services. The report suggests that these could become community hubs, with staff trained to deliver a more holistic service. People did however, feel that each area had different needs and local identities. They felt this should be recognised when we are planning how library services should be delivered.
Most people were unwilling to travel away from their local area to visit a library. 36% said that they would stop using services altogether if they couldn’t access them locally.
What about volunteers?
34% of people answering the survey said that they would be willing to volunteer help run a library. But, the feedback also stated that they would need a qualified and paid member of staff on site to support them. 79% of people said they didn’t want to see a change in how the service is run.
Our framework for change
However, we still need to redesign the service to take into account of the funding reductions that the we face and the need to provide a modern sustainable service for the future. To do this we are proposing to redesign the library service using the following framework and principles:
- Libraries must be situated in the right building in the right place, to meet community needs and maximise the impact on early intervention and prevention
- Libraries should be situated where possible on one floor to ensure an efficient and cost-effective delivery model
- A local plan should be developed for each area to reflect the differing needs of each community
- Staff should be equipped and supported to deliver on the future library model
- Strategy and job profiles should reflect the future roles needed to deliver the new service
- The services and activities provided must meet our outcomes
We agreed to carry out conversations with friends of libraries groups and other people who have a strong involvement in their local library, and use the principles above to plan how best to deliver services in each area. This would include local-level reviews of the locations and suitability of the accommodation that houses each library.
What decisions were made?
At the meeting councillors agreed:
- To retain the delivery of library services within the council, using our staff with assistance from volunteers.
- To allow the service to partner with an external organisation to deliver the home library service, which delivers books and services to people who are unable to access them in other ways. The report states that this would be more efficient and offer added value as they could deliver other services that they might already provide to vulnerable people and which can reduce the costs of this service.
- Councillors also agreed to become one of the first authorities in England to explore no longer charging library fines. This is because library fines are likely to have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable in society, especially those will cognitive disabilities or poor mental health, For these groups the fear of a fine can stop them from even coming into a library. Handling fines has also been mentioned as a reason some people are discouraged from volunteering.
Whilst any decision to stop charging library fines would see a loss of income of around £18k this would be partially offset by the reduction in costs associated with cash handling and admin.
Cllr Graham Turner Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said:
“The feedback from the most recent consultation has been crucial in helping us form a framework to take the library service forward and I would like to thank everyone who took part.
The biggest thing we have learnt from this process is how important libraries are to local communities, and how what they need from them can vary enormously.
We know that libraries are more than books and buildings, they are also friends, technology, learning and community and it is with that in mind that we will move forward in developing local plans for each area.
Libraries are all about people, places and partnerships, and by applying these basic principles I know that we will be able to deliver a first class service for the residents of Kirklees
I believe that by being flexible and working closely with the local community and friends of library groups we can deliver a sustainable, efficient and well used library service for years to come.”
Read the Kirklees Library Consultation report.