Question : PQ19.5
Cabinet – 2nd October 2018
Re: Agenda item 19 –Library strategy
Question submitted by: Joanna Booth
- A DCMS funded [for the most part] Alternative Delivery Model Options Appraisal report was published in 2018 and after publication was withheld from councillors and the public. It was then only released when it was decided not to take its recommendations on board. The chair of the task and finish scrutiny group, overseeing the library work, Cllr Anthony Negus, had to FOI to gain information about the terms of reference for the report and could then only see it under guard.
How will the mayor, Cllr Asher Craig, and Kate Murray make sure that all voices are heard, so that the process for determining and delivering a library strategy is transparent, and that appropriate scrutiny takes place in relation to the library strategy reporting in April 2019?
- It’s not up to us to hear people’s voices – it’s up to people to tell us what they can do.
- You seem to be stuck with the view this is a council consultation. It is not. We are asking community groups and communities to lead their own solutions, not to deliver a council led solutions.
- Scrutiny is a matter for them, but I would not expect it to be used to put obstacles in the way of what communities are putting forward as their solutions except, again, to ensure viability and sustainability of the network, the service, and each library.
- The prevailing trend with ‘transforming’ library services and finding community ways of delivering them seems to be to reduce staff and stock.
I point you to the data on Devon Libraries run by Libraries Unlimited: stock levels declined by %7 and volunteer usage was up by 21%. https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/s21008/Library%20report.pdf
They have also reported having to replicate services previously provided by the council and had to appoint staff at managerial levels rather than librarian and assistant levels; while in a separate example, the move of Marylebone Library to new premises meant it lost two-thirds of its space. These are two of many examples, considering 357 [at lowest estimates] have closed since 2011, and 308 had been transferred to volunteer management. (Source: https://england.librarydata.uk)
How do you plan to ensure that staff and stock funding (including staff pensions) are guaranteed and in that way to meet the Council’s statutory duties as specified within the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964?
- No – we don’t plan to ensure any guarantees. This isn’t about our statutory duties, this is about asking communities to find sustainable solutions to 27 libraries. We can’t guarantee staff or stock funding until such time as communities have identified their preferred needs.
- We will not be predicating the outcome of community discussions.
- This is not a council procedure and people need to get away from seeing this as a council solution. If we are serious about community lead solutions, then the community will find the best way to work together and sustain the community hub, including the library service.
‘For answers given at the meeting, any supplementary questions and answers please refer to the recording of the live stream of the meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyrfd1JfJsE ‘