Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dundee's libraries

One of the questions I asked at last week's City Council Scrutiny Committee was regarding the decline in library borrowers in Dundee.  I specifically asked if the recent library fines amnesty had been successful.

The Director of Leisure and Communities has since updated Scrutiny Committee members as follows:

Actions being taken by Leisure and Culture Dundee to reduce the marginal decline in the number of borrowers as a percentage of the population are as follows: 

Implementation of a membership drive strategy which will target lapsed and inactive borrowers.  This will involve making direct contact via email or mail to people who were members but have not used libraries recently, to identify reasons for their inactivity and highlight new services.  A major promotion of Outreach Services is scheduled for early in the New Year to target people who are housebound or have difficulty walking distances.  This will inform the re-shaping of the Mobile Library Service and should result in an increased membership.   

A major review of customer service across libraries is underway, which will include strategies to encourage borrowing. 

We are aware that a significant percentage of PC users do not borrow books.  Promotions to encourage cross-usage will be introduced across the City. 

The introduction of the Kidz Card for all primary school children with the library element already activated should have a positive impact which we will capitalise on.   

Although the recent Libraries Festival did not have as big an impact on issue figures as we had hoped, the borrower figure has increased by 1.8%.

As part of the Festival, a Fines Amnesty was promoted to encourage people to return items and re-join the library.  Almost 40,000 items were returned during the fines amnesty in September.  1,671 of these were over six months overdue and 1,206 were over one year overdue.  

The total value of long overdue items being returned is estimated at about £10,000, compared with £1,000 loss of fine income.  Over 1,000 borrowers have been given the opportunity to re-use our services by clearing their records of long overdue items and fines.  

146 ICT taster sessions were delivered by staff within the month, a rise from 46 in September 2011.  

I should stress that the decline is something we will always work against, but borrowers are just one indicator of library usage and overall usage is steadily increasing.