Question to Cabinet and Answer 10 December 2008


Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Meeting, 10 December 2008, Public Question Time
Ms. Shirley Burnham  -  Libraries and the possible closure of Old Town Library.

Will Council allow the huge budget allocation for no less than three Managers and a very high number of full-time and part-time staff at Central Library, to impact negatively upon the residents of Old Town  -   whose high-performing and much needed library could be closed, unless it is run wholly by volunteers in 2009?

Cllr Justin Tomlinson replied:

There are three managers at the Central Library. A strategic manager, who has overall responsibility for Central and also has responsibility for information services in all libraries. There is also a Library Manager and Assistant Library Manager.

There are three managers in the South Group of libraries, and Old Town Library is in the South Group. A strategic manager, who has overall responsibility for South Group libraries and also has responsbility for Adult and Community Services in all libraries. There is also a Library Manager and Assistant Library Manager.

There are five groups of libraries in Swindon and each group was allocated management hours based on the number of library hours open in their group, plus the number of staff they manage. Each group has a Strategic Manager, a Library Manager and Assistant Library Manager.

The South Group, which includes Old Town Library, receives proportionately more management hours than the Central Library.

If volunteers were used, management of Old Town Library would remain the same. There would continue to be a Strategic Manager, while the Library Manager would have responsibility for coordinating the volunteers and delivery of day- to-day service. Stock management would continue to be provided by professional librarians, as at present.

Old Town Library is open for 18 hours a week compared to the Central Library's 58 core hours and 24 express zone hours.

In November 2008, the issues for Old Town Library were 1,934 and issues for the Central Library were 33,563.

Old Town Library has public space of 43 square metres, and the Central Library has 1,909 square metres of public space.

There is one public computer in Old Town Library and 60 public computers at the Central Library.

The Central Library has a dedicated local studies are and family history collection, business information service and the HeadSpace area for teenagers.

There are also four helppoints, one on each floor, plus a helppoint for the local studies and family history area.

There are three part-time staff at Old Town Library. There are eight full-time staff and 24 part-time staff at the Central Library. Six of the part-time staff at Central only work for four hours on Sundays.

The scale of the Central Library in terms of size, volume of business, support needed to customers for computer use and detailed enquiries linked to the information stock held at Central does mean that more staff are needed there.

The Central Library provides services for residents anywhere in the Borough and offers specialist business information services, local studies help, family history help in addition to providing new spaces for holding story times and reading events.

Any comments ?

If you have comments about Councillor Justin Tomlinson's written reply to Shirley's question, please contact Councillor Nick Martin who has replaced him:

Mail Councillor Martin