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Libraries Need Cash To Get Up To Speed

Coventry’s libraries are suffering falling visitor numbers, shortages of books and do not have enough money spent on them, councillors have concluded.

An in-depth look at the way the service is funded and run has revealed that expenditure on stock is dangerously low.

The Best Value review team has acknowledged that the service would fail to meet proposed national standards currently being drawn up by the Government.

There are not enough computers and the number of visits, users and enquiries is falling, probably because the materials on offer are inadequate.

Libraries with good computer provision, such as Central library and Willenhall library attract a lot more young people.

The six-week investigation also looked revealed that that the computer infrastructure was under-developed and the management structure had failings.

Good points picked out were that the service was popular with its users, and considering how many service points there are, there is a god level of issues.

Target groups are catered for well, such as children, ethnic communities and visually impaired people.

The library service is active in both regional and local partnerships. And there are big levels of customer satisfaction.

Cllr Karen McKay (Socialist, St Michael’s), who sat on the review panel said it was clear that the library needed big investment in the future.

This was include in the recommendations for future action.

Cllr McKay said it was clear that the library would not get the instant help it needs, as Social Services has been earmarked for special attention in next year’s spending round.

But she added that she feared it would never receive the funding:

“The cabinet in the past have not attached enough importance to it and the way they approached it over the toilets issue makes me feel they don’t value it.

“Everything comes down to the fact that local councils are being squeezed in their funding and that has not changed in the last few years.

“The people who work in the libraries are really dedicated, but they cannot do more without more books and proper funding.”
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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 11 Jan 01
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