Wednesday 9 October 2013

Questions to Swindon Borough Council on Libraries

I have written about Walcot Library quite a lot in the past, looking at the data, giving my own views and putting up the views of the volunteers who run the library. I thought it would be a good idea to get the view of Swindon Borough Council whose decided to staff the library with volunteers and merge it with the charity shop. They kindly agreed to answer my questions which are in full and unedited below.

  1. Is Walcot Library still part of your statutory provision?


  1. If no, have you done an analysis of need as per guidance from the DCMS taking into account the findings of the Wirral report?

  1. Mr Mallinson, a former councillor, volunteer and one of the people behind the charity shop running the library has twice suggested he is going to close the library, has also suggested he is going to remove all the books.  Can he do this? Is there a written agreement between the council and the volunteers on what they can and cannot do?

There is no written agreement. However, the Library Service retains responsibility for Walcot library and provides IT, stock and staffing. Any changes to the library would require consultation with the Library Service and ultimately it would be our decision to agree to and implement any changes including removing stock. Currently, the Library service has no plans to remove the book stock.

  1. The book issues are massively down while there is a slight rise on average in the other libraries, does the Council consider the library since its handover to volunteers a success?

Although, we had considered suitable alternatives when discussing Walcot’s closure one of the Ward Councillors at the time, was keen that the library and community shop continued in their current location and took on responsibility for staffing the premises. This has meant that a library presence has been able to continue in the Walcot area.

Since that time the Library Service has also reintroduced 10 paid staffed hours per week.

The fall in library issues is due to many factors. For instance, the library mostly opens mornings so there are fewer schoolchildren using the library. The issues also previously included loans to home library users and we transferred these to another library. Thus, the loans are no longer counted in the Walcot statistics.

  1. If yes do you have any data (PLUS survey’s etc) that demonstrate this is a successful model of library provision?

There is no current PLUS data available for Swindon’s libraries.

  1. The volunteers in the library have spoken to me about generational illiteracy, with parents and their children in Walcot both not being able to read. What is the council doing to help with this?

The library service delivers the summer reading challenge in all libraries, including Walcot, providing staff to promote the scheme and train volunteers. There are also 10 staffed hours per week to assist with structured activities for all library users.

Initiatives, such as the Six Book challenge are run by a central team of outreach staff who work with all users and directly with Colleges offering basic skills courses.

  1. What other ways of making savings/models of service provision, rather than volunteers replacing the low paid front line staff has Swindon looked at and why were they not pursued instead?

Library staff are paid in line with national guidelines and practice. Therefore, we do not consider staff to be low paid. 

At the time of the proposed closure the alternative offered was for library users to go to the new Central Library and the refurbished, extended Park Library, both of which are close to Walcot. Library users unable to travel to those libraries were offered the home library service.

We still consider this to be a viable alternative but equally were happy to work with the community shop in Walcot in order to retain a library presence there.

1 comment:

  1. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Guy Ask Girls Questions .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.