Issue - meetings

Library Performance and Membership

Meeting: 13/12/2023 - Resources and Fire & Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 7)

7 Library Performance and Membership pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Additional documents:


The item was introduced by Ayub Khan, who said the report had a focus on the use of Warwickshire’s libraries by children and young people. He said it had been difficult to provide comparative data on library as the way they were used and organised had changed during the fallout from the Covid pandemic. Once this had settled it would be possible to have a benchmark for future reports to the Committee, and it would be possible to get trend data. However it was positive to note there had been a 15 per cent increase in the digital use of libraries, and visitor numbers had returned to pre-Covid levels. Libraries had also been used as warm hubs throughout the winter to help members of the public with the cost of living crisis. New services had been introduced that enabled people to improve access to other digital services.


Ayub Khan said the registration service had been updated, so when a birth was registered the newborn would automatically be issued with a library membership card.


Responding to a question from Councillor Feeney, Ayub Khan said the library service had succeeded in its bid to become a National Portfolio Organisation. This would enable the library service to access funding through the Arts Council to provide additional activities, programme delivery and staff training. Ayub Khan said it was the only library service in the West Midlands with this status; other organisations with NPO status included the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. He said libraries were not usually eligible for funding because it was a statutory service, but evidence had been provided on the additional activities and programmes delivered by the Warwickshire library service. One of the programmes that would be introduced in the new year was the human library where a person could be ‘borrowed’ to talk about their experiences.


Responding to a question from Councillor Redford, Ayub Khan said libraries had been supplied with books for children with dyspraxia and autism, and group reading sessions were being encouraged. There had been a move to make libraries autism friendly and improved staff training had been given. Sessions at Stratford library that included the use of blackout curtains to prevent sensory overload had been trialled and had been successful. It was hoped this could be extended to other libraries. Ayub Khan said permission had been sought to apply for funding for a sensory friendly vehicle, which could be driven to where it was needed.


Responding to a question from Councillor Boad, Ayub Khan said the number of young people using libraries tended to drop off through secondary school, before increasing again when the young people started attending college. This was a national trend.  Different activities, such as video clubs, had been trialled at the libraries in Nuneaton and Rugby to encourage greater use. Ideas for further clubs was being sought.


Ayub Khan said since the Covid pandemic there had been fewer people volunteering at libraries. This was more of an issue in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7