Army of Wiltshire library volunteers is best in the west

This Is Wiltshire: Cabinet member for libraries Jonathon Seed Cabinet member for libraries Jonathon Seed

Libraries across Wiltshire have more volunteers than anywhere else in the south-west, according to a new report.

The 754 volunteers, more than 300 higher than second-placed Plymouth, last year gave 26,699 hours of their time working in Wiltshire’s 31 branch libraries and five mobile libraries.

All the branch facilities also offer public access Wi-Fi, again making Wiltshire the best in the south-west in the Public Library Statistics for 2012/13 published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountancy (CIPFA).

Readers also borrowed more e-books, 17,022, than anywhere else throughout the region. In fact, Wiltshire is in the top four, out of 15 local authorities, for all 16 categories in the CIPFA statistics.

Jonathon Seed, cabinet member for libraries, said: “Our volunteers play a vital role in our libraries and I welcome this opportunity to publicly thank them, and the staff working alongside them, for their valuable contribution and dedication which has enabled us to keep all our libraries open.

“We recognise that this is not the case in other local authority areas and it is down to these volunteers that we have not had to reduce this valuable service and in some libraries we now offer extended opening times.

“The fact that the CIPFA data shows Wiltshire’s libraries are the best, or among the best, across the full range of measures is a testament to the innovative ways we have developed to ensure those libraries remain a vibrant part of the local communities they serve.”

Other key statistics in the CIPFA report show:

• Salisbury was Wiltshire’s busiest library with 431,577 visitors, who borrowed 345,841 items

• Salisbury was the second busiest library in the whole south-west behind only Truro for visitor numbers and Exeter for number of items borrowed

• In 2012/13, Wiltshire had 80,325 active borrowers – the fourth highest in the south-west

• 94.2 percent of adults surveyed in the county’s libraries rated the choice of books as good or very good – the second highest after South Gloucestershire (96.0 percent)

• Library visitors borrowed 848,895 children’s books (fiction and non-fiction) and 74,311 videos and DVDs – the third highest totals in each case

• 68 percent of borrowers’ requests for items are supplied within seven days – the fourth highest in the south-west

• Employee costs account for just 45.1 percent of gross expenditure on libraries – the lowest in the south-west

• Only volunteers in Cornwall gave more hours (28,032) than those in Wiltshire

Comments (7)

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6:11pm Fri 20 Dec 13

Shirley Burnham says...

I do not believe that "giving hours" is what the statutory Public Library Service is, or should be, about. It is very sad when the loss of a professional service to the user, and the loss of their livelihoods to the paid staff, are portrayed in this way as being a cause for celebration.
I do not believe that "giving hours" is what the statutory Public Library Service is, or should be, about. It is very sad when the loss of a professional service to the user, and the loss of their livelihoods to the paid staff, are portrayed in this way as being a cause for celebration. Shirley Burnham

10:33pm Fri 20 Dec 13

loosewoman says...

I would second your comment, Shirley. Volunteers do their best but they are no substitute for paid, trained staff who have the system at their fingertips. In addition, with the best will in the world, volunteers are not reliable, and while Councillor Seed trumpets the 'extended opening hours', he conveniently forgets to mention that many of the smaller libraries have had to close for entire sessions because volunteers have fallen sick or simply failed to turn up. It is untrue to say that volunteers can offer a better service than council employees, and also a kick in the teeth for those members of the library service who work tirelessly, enthusiastically and cheerfully to give their customers the best possible service in sometimes trying circumstances.
I would second your comment, Shirley. Volunteers do their best but they are no substitute for paid, trained staff who have the system at their fingertips. In addition, with the best will in the world, volunteers are not reliable, and while Councillor Seed trumpets the 'extended opening hours', he conveniently forgets to mention that many of the smaller libraries have had to close for entire sessions because volunteers have fallen sick or simply failed to turn up. It is untrue to say that volunteers can offer a better service than council employees, and also a kick in the teeth for those members of the library service who work tirelessly, enthusiastically and cheerfully to give their customers the best possible service in sometimes trying circumstances. loosewoman

11:24am Sat 21 Dec 13

XXXXXXIPA says...

What next? Volunteer Dustmen?
What next? Volunteer Dustmen? XXXXXXIPA

1:13am Sun 22 Dec 13

beetawix says...

Shirley Burnham wrote:
I do not believe that "giving hours" is what the statutory Public Library Service is, or should be, about. It is very sad when the loss of a professional service to the user, and the loss of their livelihoods to the paid staff, are portrayed in this way as being a cause for celebration.
while those who celebrate award themselves generous increases to their existing allowances.
[quote][p][bold]Shirley Burnham[/bold] wrote: I do not believe that "giving hours" is what the statutory Public Library Service is, or should be, about. It is very sad when the loss of a professional service to the user, and the loss of their livelihoods to the paid staff, are portrayed in this way as being a cause for celebration.[/p][/quote]while those who celebrate award themselves generous increases to their existing allowances. beetawix

1:14am Sun 22 Dec 13

beetawix says...

XXXXXXIPA wrote:
What next? Volunteer Dustmen?
certainly not unpaid volunteer councillors
[quote][p][bold]XXXXXXIPA[/bold] wrote: What next? Volunteer Dustmen?[/p][/quote]certainly not unpaid volunteer councillors beetawix

10:31am Mon 23 Dec 13

Grumpyoldgit99 says...

Perhaps we could have volunteer councillors to replace those giving themselves 36% increases.
Perhaps we could have volunteer councillors to replace those giving themselves 36% increases. Grumpyoldgit99

10:44pm Mon 23 Dec 13

politepanda says...

That's how the Tories operate. Give the least to get the most. Volunteer librarians. Police. Army, Navy, RAF. Volunteers shoring up the NHS.
Perhaps Mr Seed could explain what happens to those services when the volunteers tire of the demands and the contempt.....
That's how the Tories operate. Give the least to get the most. Volunteer librarians. Police. Army, Navy, RAF. Volunteers shoring up the NHS. Perhaps Mr Seed could explain what happens to those services when the volunteers tire of the demands and the contempt..... politepanda

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