Presentation by Library Manager
The Library Manager gave a presentation (previously circulated) on Darlington Libraries and in doing so advised Members that public libraries were governed by legislation ensuring that all members of society had free access to library materials and that it was the duty of every library authority to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof.”
The presentation detailed the services provided by both Darlington and Cockerton Library; and the refurbishment of Darlington Library, including improvements to the Cockerton Library were outlined.
It was reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the work on the digital offer available to residents; online membership was implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, with 870 new members signing up since March 2020. Members were advised that the digital offer was promoted and noted a large increase in digital borrowing, from 24,426 issues in 2019-2020 to 58,489 issues in 2020-2021; and that the Council had invested in a library app, allowing members to self-manage their accounts and to facilitate borrowing safely during the pandemic.
Members were informed of the library home delivery service which had been extended due to the pandemic to any resident 60 years of age or over living in Darlington; that this service delivers to 280 households every month with the help of Darlington Support; and reference was made to the online activities provided to families and resources provided to schools and nurseries.
The presentation outlined figures for borrowing, including a breakdown of adult and junior lending; the recommended changes to the library service performance indicators; and details provided of a range of new initiatives to be provided by the library.
Discussion ensued on the library refurbishment which was due to commence in May; the use of Members to help raise awareness of services available; and Members gave their thanks to the library staff for their work during the pandemic.
Following a question in respect of the digital book offer Members were advised that digital books were a small proportion of the stock but acknowledged that book borrowing had changed and as such a new stock purchasing strategy was in development.
RESOLVED – That the thanks of this Scrutiny Committee be extended to the Library Manager for her informative and interesting presentation.