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BETTER IMPROVEMENT PROSPECTS FOR HARINGEY'S LIBRARY SERVICE

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The library service provided by Haringey LBC is still poor but has promising prospects for improvement, according t...
The library service provided by Haringey LBC is still poor but has promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

The Audit Commission inspection team gave the service no stars because although there have been some improvements since the last inspection, these have only halted the decline of the service. As a result it still functions at a basic level.

Roy Irwin, regional director, London region inspection service, said: 'Although improvements have undoubtedly been made the changes have yet to make a significant impact on the service as it is experienced by users. Clearer short and medium-term plans for further improvement are in place, but there is widespread acknowledgement that there is still a very long way to go.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

  • plans for the service are clear, practical and address the right issues;

  • more money has been spent on new books; and

  • opening hours have been increased.

    However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

  • while short and medium-term plans for improvement are in place, the longer term future is, as yet, uncertain.

  • stock is not displayed attractively and shelves in most libraries are overfull with books, which are in a bad condition and out of date.

  • opening hours are still well below national standards and there are no plans for Sunday opening at present.

    To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

  • establishing branch and sector plans with clear performance targets for local managers relating to increased usage and income generation.

  • introducing stock management guidelines, focusing particularly on when and how to withdraw and circulate books

  • services for black and ethnic minority communities should be reviewed in consultation with representative groups in order to develop a strategy for delivering the services they require

    Haringey's library service consists of nine static libraries, a mobile library and a housebound delivery service. The net expenditure for the service in 2001/02 was £4.6m. The council carried out a best value review of the service in 2000. This was followed by an Audit Commission inspection in March 2001 which judged the service to be 'a poor no star service that is not going to improve'.

    A contract for the interim management of the service was awarded to Instant Library Ltd and commenced in July 2001. The contract with the company was originally for six months but has been renewed and is currently due to expire in December 2002.

    Copies of the report are available from Haringey LBC or on the Audit Commission Inspection website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk

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