Results of Kirklees Council Library Consultation

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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.

 

5 comments

  • If feasible I can see an advantage in Kirklees Library service partnering with resurgent communitee libraries which emerged after the former Kirklees local libraries were closed. As an instance I cite Lepton Community Library which is hosted by Lepton Methdist Church. It is endeavouring with the church to act as a community hub. At the moment it is open only on Thursday mornings. With some kind of support and encouragementfrom KIrklees in the form of promotion of publicity and ideas greater interest could be stimulated in library community hubs throughout the whole of Kirklees.

  • Excluding some elderly people, the majority of us use mobile phones. When I want an appointment with my GP or have a hospital appointment I’m informed of the appointment at the time of making it or just before it’s due with a text message. I don’t know how much this costs to set up but would it be an idea to remind folk when books are due back . I find the present system where you don’t get your book stamped or have to request a receipt on the machine to remind you a bind as I then have to remember to transfer it to the book or write it in my diary when I get home. Surely this would prevent books being late back and the worry of a fine to us all .
    I love using Kirklees libraries and don’t restrict myself to the one in the area I live. I must admit that since the possibility of us losing libraries I have used them more regularly. Unfortunately that means I don’t buy books very often so we’re in danger of losing more of our bookshops which are also important. Catch 22 !!!!!
    We somehow need to instil into children the services our libraries bring. I don’t see a lot of children in my local library except for the under 5’s . Could this be done through schools?
    ” USE IT OR LOSE IT”!!

  • The meeting minutes refer to para 2.4 of the considered report relating to libraries. Is that available? In particular what does early intervention and prevention mean?

  • It’s all well and good Carol to say most people can use a mobile phone.
    But I think it’s more than just the elderly, but people with mental and physical health issues too and also people who don’t have the funds to pay to keep a mobile phone or computer connected to the Internet that need to use the library in person.
    Although I do think the option to choose between either using the service online or like at present in person should still be made available to everyone.
    On another note More info could have been made available about where they plan on having some of these local libraries.
    I personally thought that the best places were to have them integrated with local schools, but no idea if this could be a consideration the cabinet have looked at or what? Doesn’t really go into much detail.
    Any more detail coming #Kirklees?

  • It’s all well and good Carol to say most people can use a mobile phone.
    But I think it’s more than just the elderly, but people with mental and physical health issues too and also people who don’t have the funds to pay to keep a mobile phone or computer connected to the Internet that need to use the library in person.
    Although I do think the option to choose between either using the service online or like at present in person should still be made available to everyone.
    On another note More info could have been made available about where they plan on having some of these local libraries.
    I personally thought that the best places were to have them integrated with local schools, but no idea if this could be a consideration the cabinet have looked at or what? Doesn’t really go into much detail.
    Any more detail coming #Kirklees?

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