The Cabinet meeting on 21 Monday 21 March will approve a ‘community engagement’ consultation ‘to seek the views of the public on their ambitions for Croydon’s Library Service’ from 22 March to 2 May. The aim is to report back the results to the Cabinet in July with recommendations.
‘Croydon’s library service was outsourced in October 2013 and it is now delivered through a contract with Carillion Integrated Services. A saving of £800k has been delivered on annual costs from 2014/15 on the library service budget by the outsourcing of the service.’ (from para 3.4)
Given the ‘significant funding cuts over the next few years’ the Library ‘Service needs to continue to offer value for money but at a lower cost. Therefore the public engagement exercise will be part of developing a new library plan which will set out the council’s vision for the library service. The Council wants its libraries to be places, physical and virtual, that provide access to knowledge and information, culture and leisure opportunities, digital services and inclusion. The ambition is that they will be delivered in partnership with local communities, meeting and adapting to local need.’ (para 3.5)
- online community survey
- support for those people for whom on- line access is not possible.
- ‘targeted focus groups will be held including older and younger residents and those new to our community who have English as a second language.’
- ‘It is also intended to gain the views of those who do not currently use libraries or who are lapsed users.’ (from para 3.6)
- To place libraries as the hub of a community, re- thinking what a library space is, where it could/should be and how it can be used to best meet the varied needs of local communities;
- To incorporate community participation to support resilience and sustainability of library services;
- Provision of a range of services including digital access to council services to add value and deliver efficiencies;
- To seek regeneration and housing development opportunities, working in partnership with community and commercial organisations;
- To exploit all opportunities to use the libraries to maximum effect , extending use outside current opening hours, creative use of spaces with new partnerships and reprovision where possible’ (from para 3.6)
Croydon has 380,700 residents of whom over 22% are children. 18% of residents currently actively use the r libraries, approximately 50% of those are children and young people.
- Croydon has below average book lending per 1,000 population.
- Croydon has one of the lowest issues per 1,000 population of electronic and other lending.
- ‘It is estimated that the Service will have 2,000,000 visitors next year of whom half will be to the Central library which remains one of the busiest libraries in the country.’
- Around 7000 people each month attend events in libraries.
- ‘The Service has nearly 380,000 items of stock but almost a third has not been borrowed for over a year.’
- ‘Croydon has a below average book stock per 1,000 population and buys fewer books each year than most other councils in the country.’
- ‘Current budget allows the replacement/refresh of roughly 8% of the book stock each year and it would take 12 years to replace/refresh our book stock in the borough’s 13 libraries at the current rate.
- The range of online resources is increasing and it is planned to have 17% of active use accessed via this route in 2016/17.
The Council’s Monitoring Officer comments:
- that as a library authority, the Council has a statutory duty under s.7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to ‘provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof’. (Para 6.1)
- ‘The Public Sector Equality Duty as set out contained in Chapter 1 of Part 11 of the Equality Act 2010 has three principle requirements which can be summarised as the need to:
- eliminate discrimination (in all its forms, including direct and indirect discrimination);
- advance equality of opportunity; and
- foster good relations between those sharing or not sharing protected characteristics. (para 6.3)
- ‘Those taking the decision must be aware of their duty to have “due regard” to the requirements of the PSED’
- ‘The “due regard” duty must be fulfilled before and at the time that a particular policy that might affect protected groups is being considered by the public authority in question. It involves a conscious approach and state of mind’
- ‘The duty must be exercised “in substance, with rigour and with an open mind”.’ (Para 6.4)
Library opening hours
Expenditure 2009-10 to 2014/15
Capital Spend 2007-15
Book stock 2013-15
Snapshot of service use September 2015
The Cabinet report is downloadable here: