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For the record, thread about Devon County Council (DCC) scrutiny committee held on 26th September, at which #libraries were discussed.
Presenting report from Libraries Unlimited were Libraries Unlimited CEO, Alex Kittow; DCC Commissioner Simon Kitchen; and the councillor whose portfolio includes libraries, Cllr Roger Croad.
1. Last year scrutiny asked that going forward Libraries Unlimited should provide Key Performance Indicator of children's issues, and also provide the number of professional staff employed in Devon Libraries...
... Those figures were not presented at this scrutiny meeting, the lack of them was mentioned but no attempt was made by scrutiny to insist on Libraries Unlimited providing what scrutiny had asked for.
2. On demise of smaller libraries, CEO said "use it or lose it" and "if they are not being used, there isn't a demand for them" - no acknowledgement of policies that contributed to the drop in usage (opening hours cut, lack of stock investment, deprofessionalisation of staff)...
... There was also a lot of blaming "national trends" as if #devon has not played any part at all in those national trends.
3. Asked by scrutiny for the "master plan" to deal with another 7% drop in issues, CEO said they were thinking "outside the box". It's all about "income streams". He is very keen on drones ("come and pay ten quid to fly a drone round the library") and suggested microbreweries ...
... and that people could pay for a "personalised" book experience, as if it isn't already an important part of a professional librarian's job to suggest books that borrowers might like.
4. While CEO warned "painful choices may need to be considered", Cllr Croad guaranteed there will still be 50 libraries this time next year but he went on, as he always does, to praise volunteers & how they keep libraries open and he's so pleased no. of volunteers is up by 58%.
5. The DCC Commissioner has asked Libraries Unlimited to provide #data branch by branch, quarterly as #opendata to start by the end of November. There will be no historic data and there is currently disagreement between DCC and Libraries Unlimited over providing financial data.
6. DCC is putting together a new Libraries Strategy (ahead of recommissioning the service next year) and asked for scrutiny input - unfortunately (no disrespect intended) the two scrutiny members to be involved in this demonstrated limited knowledge of libraries.
And in the end, despite expressing real concerns about the state of #devon #libraries, all scrutiny said to Libraries Unlimited was "come back next year." Ends.
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