Hampshire County Council
Executive Member - Recreation and Heritage
11 March 2008
Initial response to the report of the Library Scrutiny Panel
Report of the Director of Recreation and Heritage
Contact: Richard Ward Tel: 01962 826621 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1.1 The Culture and Communities Select Committee carried out a thorough and wide ranging review into the public library service provided to the people of Hampshire by the Recreation and Heritage Department. The committee took evidence from the Authority's own staff, from lay users of the service, and from experts in libraries and related fields. Visits were also made to other authorities to view experiences elsewhere.
1.2 A comprehensive report was presented to the Committee meeting on 24 January 2008 and has been forwarded to the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage for her comments and action.
2.1 That the Executive Member welcomes the report of the Culture and Communities Select Committee investigation into the public library service and will ask the Director of Recreation and Heritage to prepare a response its recommendations. A progress report is requested by January 2009, with some other actions requested by July 2008.
The Report of Hampshire's Library and Information Service Review - Culture and Communities Select Committee
3.1 The purpose of the review was to evaluate progress of the Hampshire Library and Information Service against a background of, typically, national decline in the use of libraries and the borrowing of books.
3.2 The objectives of the review were to identify factors considered to be key to good performance and that promote use of public libraries, including issues of:
· Library direction and performance
· Availability of books and information services
· Library location and access
· Improving customer experience
3.3 This was to be done by acquiring and considering relevant documents, and by obtaining written and verbal evidence from key stakeholders drawn from the a wide range of employees, users, other library services and related concerns such as the book trade and government agencies. The review was to culminate in a report making constructive recommendations, as appropriate, to the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage.
3.4 Members of the review panel were Cllr. K. Chapman (Chairman), Cllr. P. Chegwyn, Cllr. Dr. R. Ellis, Cllr. B. Gurden, Cllr. R. Kimber, Cllr. A. Rice, and Cllr. D. Wright.
3.5 The review panel met several times during its work, took evidence from witnesses, read papers, and visited other libraries. Its report was considered by the Select Committee's meeting on 24 January 2008.
4. The report's recommendations
4.1 The report produced a number of recommendations of which the most significant were:
· A formal strategy for the future development of the service should be produced to guide the development of the service over the next 5 years
· Community engagement, market research, intelligence gathering about actual and potential users should all be increased with a community engagement and market research plan produced by July 2008.
· The Discovery Centre branding should be re-examined
· Efficiency measures such as RFID (state of the art IT system with intelligent tags to facilitate self issue) should be pursued
· Staff and stakeholder involvement should be increased
· A greater proportion of available resources should be spent on books, and a strategy should be produced for the county's special collections.
· Co-location of libraries with other services, rather than stand alone buildings, should be encouraged
· Volunteer policies should be re-examined, customer care training enhanced, and opening hours reviewed for consistency.
Links to Corporate Strategy
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The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
N.B. the list excludes:
1. Published works.
2. Documents that disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.
Report of Library Scrutiny Panel Democratic Services
Chief Executive's Department