The Audit Commission inspection team gave the service two stars* because there is a broad range of services provided in welcoming surroundings; there is good study support, especially for young people; and imaginative projects are undertaken to encourage people to read more widely. However, the Council does not consult well especially with people who do not use the service and a number of library buildings are in poor condition.
'Leicestershire CC is providing library services which are valued by local people, including specific services for different groups in the community. There is a commitment to improvement and the services aims to achieve all the national standards by 2004.
'However, many local people are unaware of all the services available, and there has been a lack of progress on some the problems identified by the council themselves, for example there are a number of buildings in poor condition.'
'The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths: local people value the services provided and see the staff as friendly and helpful; a range of activities are provided for different groups within the community, especially to promote reading and provide access to computers.
'Opening times have been extended and efforts made to tailor these to local needs.'
However, inspectors also found weaknesses:
- consultation with local people, especially non-users is insufficient to ensure that local needs are being fully met;
- a number of the library buildings are in poor condition;
- general promotion of the services that are available is limited and there are no published service standards.
To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including calling upon the council to:
- consult regularly with users and non users and involve elected members more formally in determining service priorities;
- implement a service-wide marketing and promotion campaign;
- resolve the problem of poor buildings.
The library and information service is delivered through a network of 52 libraries and eight mobile libraries. In addition, there is a library in partnership with the local community at Huncote and an ICT centre at Asfordby. Services are also provided for housebound people and those in residential/nursing homes. There are approximately 252 full time equivalent staff and a budget for 2002/03 of£6.584 million.
Copies of the report are available from Leicestershire CC or on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk.