Doncaster Libraries Today

Doncaster Council has proposed to make huge cuts to its library service, including the closure of 14 libraries. This, in addition to the damaging changes made to the service over the last five years (which you can read about on the Doncaster Libraries: A History page), means that Doncaster Council is failing in its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. Doncaster Libraries and Information Services were once well-respected. They have suffered because of:

  • Reduced library opening hours:
    • No libraries are open after 6pm (not even Central Library)
    • No libraries are open on Saturday afternoons (except Central Lending Library)
    • No libraries are open until 10am on Fridays and Saturdays (Central Lending Library opens at 9am on Saturdays).
    • Some libraries are only open 10-12 on Saturdays
  • CS managers with no library experience, expertise or interest
  • CS priorities which do not include library services and events. For example, the Doncaster Book Award 2009 was not actively promoted and many staff knew nothing about it
  • Low staff morale
  • Little to no library skills training for staff
  • Cost-ineffective use of agency staff and not replacing regular relief staff. The CS viewpoint is that all staff should be able to do all jobs and that the only thing library staff do is stamp books so do not need to be skilled
    • This leads to a noticeable lack of consistency – customers don’t know/recognise staff (it is essential that children see familiar faces)
    • Low or non-existent staff knowledge about libraries, books, reading, literacy and the local area
    • Libraries becoming less efficient and untidy due to stock being shelved incorrectly
  • Many staff do not want to work with children and make this clear through their attitude and behaviour towards children using the library
  • Branches are on absolute minimum staffing levels. There is no opportunity for staff to develop their branch service, or spend quality time on individual users’ queries and needs. Staff are also under a lot of pressure
  • For example, Mexborough Library is on three floors with the staffroom on top floor. There are only two staff on duty 95% of time and extra cover is available for two hours over lunch-times. Coffee breaks can therefore only be taken at the counter because it is not safe practice to leave one member of staff alone at the counter
  • There is little community outreach work – branch staff are not allowed out of the library to visit schools, community groups etc. if their absence requires relief cover
  • Branch staff are rarely able to conduct activities and events within their own library, especially if relief counter cover is required.  Such events include readers’ groups, toddler storytimes, school class visits and children’s holiday sessions. This was a traditional & expected role of all library staff. Now such events are run by a Reader Development team of four staff and a manager, who have little specific expertise and are all expected to work across the entire age spectrum. These staff members are overworked and under a lot of pressure.

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