We already offer a range of online transactions and services. Use is high and is increasing; however feedback suggests that it could be improved. We have been asked to improve navigation, make searching the library catalogue easier and provide more personalised information; similar to the way Amazon works. There is also potential to introduce more accessible services through a mobile app. Where a library app has been introduced in other authorities, public feedback has been positive.
Our existing Library Management System will be replaced in the next 12 months, giving us the opportunity to improve our online services.
There is also the opportunity to explore the wider use of technology such as broadband roll-out, to underpin other developments and develop more innovative ways of working with communities to deliver services.
Over 300 residential care homes are currently served by a free regular loan service where a box of books is delivered for a 10 week loan period. In addition, over 600 people receive the Home Library Service, provided on our behalf by the Royal Voluntary Service.
We propose to review this service, starting by consulting care home residents and staff to see if the service is valued and how it could be improved. One potential option is for Royal Voluntary Service volunteers to provide individual residents with a more personalised and regular service.
Find out more in the outreach services information pack.
Over the past three years we have reduced management and support costs by over 30%. If these proposals are accepted we will need to reconfigure our management and support services to lead and support this new model of delivery in the future. Once we have a final set of proposals we will look at a restructure of all of our management and support services to reduce costs further and to provide the appropriate level of support.
In the past two years we have generated over £300,000 through external funding, and through the library service being commissioned to deliver programmes and initiatives for other services.
For example the Reading Well: Books on Prescription Service is fully-funded by public health. In many cases this external funding has encouraged innovation and development, and responded to growing need for particular services. The Free Fridays service was developed because staff became aware that our vulnerable customers needed support to apply for jobs and to use online government services. Free Fridays has been supported by grants from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Council’s Economy Team.
We propose that our library service managers continue to seek alternative sources of funding for the library service in the next 2-3 years to continue this type of work. For example, we have recently secured £170,000 investment from public health to deliver a range of wellbeing-based initiatives in libraries for the next three years.