Recently the Council published a summary of their findings from the Library Consultation held earlier this year. The thinking behind the consultation was to allow local residents, volunteers and library service staff to have a say in how the service may be delivered in the future within the reduced budget of £2.238 m.
Responses came from a number of sources:

  • focus groups with staff, Library Service users and ‘Friends of’ groups
  • Council consultation with 86 children and young people
  • 3057 responses to a paper/online survey (mainly from library users)

Conclusion 1: Libraries are perceived to fulfil a wider societal function beyond book lending.
Although the majority (86%) of survey respondents saw borrowing books as one of the most important functions of a library, it is clear from the qualitative research that libraries are no longer seen as services purely for book lending alone.

Conclusion 2: Views are mixed on the issue of library location/buildings.

Moving the local library to another building (or privately run building) attracted limited support, with 52% of library service users disagreeing with this idea. The qualitative research highlighted that for some areas, the library building itself was held in high regard as a historic building and focal point for the community. Opposition to this idea is more apparent when communities cannot see a viable alternative building in their locality.

Conclusion 3: Volunteers have played a pivotal role in recent years but there are concerns about sustainability.
Only 34% of survey respondents felt they were willing to volunteer, leaving the majority disagreeing that they ‘would be willing to volunteer to help run a library’ (43%). This support is also evident in the number of participants who stated they would need a full- time, qualified and paid member of staff to support them in their role as volunteer.

Conclusion 4: The results of the children’s consultation largely reflect the findings from the qualitative and quantitative research conducted, and remain consistent in terms of how libraries are used and ideas for sustaining services for the future. Children were full of praise for library staff and struggled to envisage an effective delivery of library services without staff. The majority (47%) of children disagreed with the statement ‘do you think moving your library to another building is a good idea?’ and found it difficult to identify alternative spaces which would ensure high quality library services are maintained.

Conclusion 5: There are seen to be different advantages and disadvantages to keeping library services within the Council, but generally there is a clear preference for library services to remain within the Council.
The majority of residents (79%) expressed a preference for there to be no change in how library services are currently run, and would like services to remain Council led. Less than one in ten residents did not support the idea of library services remaining within the Council (9%).

Conclusion 6: Support for the idea of alternative delivery models is variable.
The alternative models were met with varying levels of support, although, as mentioned previously, it should be stressed that many struggled to comprehend the delivery of services outside the Council, and therefore found it difficult to discuss the different model types.

This is only a very brief summary of a seven page document. To read the full report click here
The picture shows one of the volunteers at Kirkheaton library