The trustees of Yetton Together have sent the following response to Kirklees Library Consultations. Until 4th April you can comment on the council’s ideas for cost cutting within the service by filling in a questionnaire available at the Community Centre or on line at kirklees.gov.uk/ libraryconsultation.
Yetton Together’s comments on Kirklees Library Consultation 2018
As the community group for Kirkheaton, Yetton Together support a Council run library service as well as Kirkheaton Library and its volunteer group, Friends of Kirkheaton Library (FoKL). Outsourcing to private organisations does not recognise the wider social role of local library services in local communities and the all important links to council services.
A local library is at the centre of a local community and spawns other activities. This in turn fulfils one of the council’s aims to encourage older people to be more socially active which has been proven to reduce their need for other council services.
We feel that further contraction of libraries and library services harms the least fortunate. They are the ones less likely to have a computer at home, be in a position to buy books or afford to go out of their local area to access education, services and activities.
Kirklees Council describes itself as ’digital by design’ but continues ‘we recognise that not all sections of the population will be digital literate or have access to technology’*.
We believe that being ‘digital by design’ is already discriminatory against people who don’t have access to home computers. If they are then denied access to a local library computer then effectively they are being further disadvantaged as they won’t be able to access most council and government services. Kirklees Libraries in their 2016-17 review state that there had been 134,169 hours of computer use in their libraries thus showing how important access to computers is for their users. For many non computer owners the cost of bus fares to and from a central library is not an option they can afford to access them.
Regarding Kirklees Libraries Consultation 2018 Questionnaire
We feel that the questionnaire you have put out seems to be biased towards a desired outcome, and does not give anyone completing it a real opportunity to have their say on the proposals, only what would they do if it happened.
We feel that it is skewed in the following areas:
Limiting the options to two options in Q1, when putting them in order of preference might have been more enlightening.
the info at Q3a implies people are in favour of a central location whereas it seems the question only gave you the option of that or separate places which doesnt support the opening statement as no other option seemed to have been available
No opinion has been sought of library users as to the impact of volunteers over the last 18 months. A similar question to Q4 was asked at the last consultation and as “the Library Service has nearly 1000 volunteers donating their times across all 24 of our libraries “** already, it seems that the recruitment of volunteers is not really an issue.
At a more local level we are aware that as the smallest library in Kirklees, Kirkheaton is very vulnerable. However using Kirklees Libraries Annual Review 2016-17 figures, whilst Kirkheaton Library has the lowest visitor numbers (3,393), it can be considered as one of the most successful in serving its community. As a percentage of its visitor numbers
Kirkheaton Library has 9.64% who are active members whilst only one other Kirklees library has more than 5% (Heckmondwike 5.52%)
13.45% of visitors to Kirkheaton library use its computer facilities, making it the 5th greatest IT user after The Greenwood Centre (35.7%), Dewsbury (25.8%), Heckmondwike (25%) and Huddersfield (17.5%)
There are nearly 2 book/ item issues per visit when all other libraries issue less than 1 per visit.
At present it has 5 hours paid support with the 20 volunteers stepping in at other times to open and run the service.
The Friends of Kirkheaton Library ( FoKL ) enhance the services offered by the library by running
Monthly reading group
Weekly Lego sessions
Family Craft sessions in each school holiday
Supporting a local history group
Weekly visits by children from Kirkheaton Primary School to encourage reading
Weekly toddlers story and craft sessions – including children from local nursery
Fund raising for the Community Centre
Summer Reading programme with crafts and other activities
This is in addition to their normal voluntary library duties.
Kirkheaton Library has adapted to considerable change over the last few years. It is now run almost entirely by volunteers, and our local community group charity, ‘Yetton Together’ who lease and run Kirkheaton community centre (not council owned), provide the space it occupies.
We welcome your comments
Kirklees Libraries Consultation 2018 Questionnaire
* The Annual Review 2016- 2017