Library Transformation Strategy
To receive a presentation on the Library Transformation Strategy.
Angela Huisman, Library and Resident Contact Lead, gave the Board a presentation on the Library Transformation Strategy. The library service vision was underpinned by six key strategic priorities:
- Facilitating opportunities for young people to make a positive contribution to society
- Empowering people to be healthy, skilled and independent
- Helping to shape vibrant, strong and resilient communities
- Assisting with economic recovery and aspiration, fulfil potential
- Ensuring well-managed resources were delivering value for the community by the community
- Giving access to trusted information without a commercial or partisan bias
The proposed LTS (Library Transformation Strategy) outlined how the library service would continue to adapt in an agile way to changing circumstances, opportunities, challenges and demands. There was an aim to be clear about the priorities and outcomes for the service, with an understanding of the changing environment in which libraries operated. The strategy also aimed to be creative and realistic around new possibilities and ways of working.
Before lockdown, Maidenhead Library frequently had over 1,000 visits a day for a variety of reasons, including study, community group activities and exercise. The largest demographic was the under 24s, while during lockdown this had changed slightly to those aged between 18-35.
The community library model required one single part-time staff member on site for a limited number of hours per week. This was to facilitate and coordinate the range of activities and support services delivered by volunteers, charities and other organisations while helping residents navigate access to digital and physical information sources and books. It was worth noting that there were significantly more library volunteers than library advisors.
In terms of value for money and contribution to public services, for every £1 efficiently invested in library services, £6.95 was returned to the local economy. The accessibility hour was not proposed to be withdrawn, instead it could be changed from 9-10am to 10-11am. The proposal sought to retain professional staff on duty for all published opening hours. These staff underwent enhanced DBS checking and also rigorous training in areas such as Safeguarding, Sensory Disability Support, Dash and Domestic Abuse Support and Autism awareness. Volunteers would continue to work alongside staff but would be supervised and managed by a library professional. The main aim was to provide digital and physical support to ensure access for all.
The consultation process would be as follows:
- Consultation closes 30 April
- Public sessions to hear more about proposals
- Review consultation results and any alternative proposals that are suggested
- Present preferred options to Cabinet for final approval
The Council had a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service that met the needs of residents. It was important that residents were involved in defining what that was. This was an opportunity for residents, partners and stakeholders to make their views known.
The Chairman commented that it was important the library service had a good digital offering going forward but it was also important to make sure that physical access was still provided.
Councillor Bhangra passed on his thanks to Angela Huisman, it was important to have libraries in the borough as they were significant community assets. There was a campaign to save Boyn Grove library which was important for the local community.
The Chairman encouraged residents to get involved and have their say by responding to the consultation.