The council’s cabinet noted a new report – ‘Library Services Peer Challenge’ on Monday 16 March. The report presents the findings of a two-day library services review carried out in Warrington in February by the Local Government Association (LGA).
During the visit, the peer challenge team visited a number of different library sites and held discussions with a broad range of people, including council and LiveWire officers, the chair of the library partnership board, library front line staff and management and Friends of libraries group members.
Key areas of praise included:
- A strong commitment from the council and LiveWire to maintaining and improving the standard of libraries in the borough
- Improved community engagement which is supporting the library service’s improvement plans
- Good marketing and awareness of the library offer
- A committed workforce
- Proof of good, innovative practice
The team highlighted the council’s commitment to invest in buildings and stock, along with the well-developed community hub model for integrating a number of services to reflect local need.
Also praised was the innovative work to co-locate other organisations in library buildings, the progressive conversations taking place with communities about the future of the service and the successful integration of wellbeing programs within libraries.
Areas for development raised by the peer challenge team included additional work to understand reasons for non-usage of libraries, further collaboration with schools and the volunteer sector and continuing to invest in the training and development of staff.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “We have made a firm commitment to invest in the future of our libraries so that they meet the needs of all sections of the community. We are now seeing these ambitions really beginning to take shape, guided by our three-year libraries strategy and supported by our libraries partnership board.
“The continued strong public interest in libraries and our commitment to ensuring the service remains sustainable and relevant for the future, meant the timing was right to take up the opportunity of the LGA challenge, to help us look closely at what we are doing right, what we can improve, and what comes next.
“I’m delighted that the peer challenge team judged our libraries service to be very good, as it shows we are heading in the right direction. Just as importantly, the peer review highlights some key areas of development which will assist us in our ongoing work to provide an accessible, modern and sustainable library offer for local people.”
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire, said: “The Library Services Peer Review was a welcome opportunity to take an over-arching look at the library service that LiveWire delivers on behalf of the council.
“We have made a strong commitment to the town’s libraries, and, alongside the council and the ‘friends’ groups who we work closely with, have dedicated a great deal of work, creativity and long-term planning into the sustainability of the service.
“We are pleased the peer challenge team have recognised the commitment, innovation and vision of everyone involved in promoting and growing the library offer across the borough, and will be using the results as a springboard to further develop our offer and inform the work being done across the town’s libraries.”
You can read the report here