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TWO STARS FOR WINDSOR & MAIDENHEAD RBC LIBRARIES

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The library and Information service provided by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is good with promising ...
The library and Information service provided by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is good with promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission.

An Audit Commission inspection team gave the service two stars. Bill Sanderson, assistant regional director, southern region inspection, said: 'The library and information service at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead benefits from able and committed managers and staff. They have recognised the shortcomings of the service and are willing to find solutions and new ways of working to make improvements.

'The challenge now is to continue to improve the libraries and deliver a 21st century service, which meets local needs. If this is tackled in the way the council proposes along with our recommendations, we would expect to see the service improve further.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- Customers are generally satisfied with the wide range of services provided.

- Staff are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well trained.

- Initiatives are focused to meet the needs of local communities.

- New technologies are used effectively to deliver services in new ways.

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- The appearance of many of the library buildings needs to be improved to make the libraries more welcoming and attractive to the wide range of communities within the Royal Borough.

- Knowledge of what existing and potential customers would like from their library and information service needs to be improved so that services can continue to be developed to match these needs.

- The Royal Borough does not compare too well with similar library services, on the hours of access per head of population and the location of libraries.

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

- Develop mechanisms of ongoing consultation with local people.

- To support the service in tackling social inclusion, develop a service specific policy adressing the diversity of the local communities.

- Produce updated service standards based on what is important to local people.

The library and information service consists of 10 libraries, a container library, a mobile library, a home delivery service to people who are housebound or living in sheltered accommodation, and internet access in every library. The budget for the service for 2002/03 is£2.6 million.

Copies of the report are available from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead or on the Audit Commission website.

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