A new set of library standards for Welsh public libraries has been produced and launched. Libraries making a difference: the fifth quality framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2014-2017 builds on previous frameworks but includes impact and outcome measures for the first time.
John Griffiths AM, Minister for Culture and Sport in Wales, launched the new framework on 1st May 2014 in Prestatyn Library+ and said: “Since the Welsh Government introduced public library standards 12 years ago, we have seen improvements in the services and a more consistent library offer across Wales.” The press release is here.
The new framework includes 18 core entitlements and 16 quality indicators. Local authorities will be asked to report annually against these. The framework is divided into four areas and the entitlements and indicators fit in underneath these. The four areas are: customers and communities; access for all; learning for life; and leadership and development.
Some aspects of library service provision that the new indicators are capturing are things like skills gained, health and well-being benefits and the experience of the library as inclusive place. The framework also includes indicators on matters such as provision of materials, staffing and location of service and mobile points.
The new framework was prepared by LISU in consultation with local authorities in Wales, CILIP Wales,the Welsh Local Government Association, and the Welsh Government. With lots of different view points to consider I hope we have produced a framework that: reflects the breadth of what libraries provide and the benefit of using these services; enables local authority library services to respond to changing needs; and provides them with inspiration to deliver a high performing service for the benefit of their population.
‘What’s the point of the standards?’ some may ask. Well, they help the Minister fulfil his duty to “superintend and promote” the public library service as outlined in the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964, as well as being a guide to local authorities as to their duties to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” service under the same Act. Since standards were introduced in Wales they have helped create greater consistency of the library offer across all 22 local authorities, and have also led to service level improvements across all authorities. People can view the published annual reports on performance to see how well local authorities are currently doing.
Published alongside this new framework there is a summary user guide (called How good is your public library service?) which is a good place to start if you’re new to the standards and don’t want to plough through the whole document!
And thanks to all the enthusiastic and helpful staff at Prestayn Library+ for making us welcome and hosting the event! The library is new, and received Welsh Government grant funding through CyMAL division and since opening in November 2013 has seen its children’s issues increase by an amazing 65%!
Update (8th May 2014) – I have just come across a very indepth and interesting article (“How well are you doing your job?“) about the importance of measuring outcomes in public libraries in America. If you are interested in this area of work I would highly recommend it.