A team of inspectors from the Audit Commission have given the council's library service a 'good' rating and awarded it two stars out of a possible three noting 'impressive' improvements.
Audit Commission senior inspector Les Kidner said: 'Haringey council is providing a good library service for the people of the borough and has worked hard to make major improvements in recent times.
'The range and quality of books, CDs and DVDs available is now much greater. Library opening hours have been extended, access to IT and the attitude of the libraries staff has improved, making going to the library a more attractive prospect for local people.'
The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths including:
' There is a programme of events which caters for the different ethnic groups living in the area.
' Most libraries now have a choice of CDs and DVDs.
' Over 160 new internet computers are available for local people to use.
However, inspectors also found weaknesses:
' There is no long term strategy for the future development of the service.
' The management of the service has been out-sourced to instant libraries, but their contract expires in March 2004 and it is not clear who will take over then.
To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:
' Produce a long-term strategy for the libraries service.
' Consult local people on what they want from the service.
' Develop a plan to get more people from ethnic minorities using the library service.
Haringey's library service consists of nine static libraries , a mobile library, a housebound delivery service, a baby book bus and a service to residential homes. The revenue budgets for 2003/04 are £5,437,000. This includes £250,000 external funding. Instant Libraries were awarded the contract to manage the libraries till March 2004.
The Audit Commission is an independent body responsible for ensuring that public money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively, to achieve high-quality local and national services for the public. Our work covers local government, housing, health and criminal justice services.
As an independent watchdog, we provide important information on the quality of public services. As a driving force for improvement in those services, we provide practical recommendations and spread best practice. As an independent auditor, we monitor spending to ensure public services are good value for money.