Saturday, 28 May 2011

Community Library Groups are frustrated - help them understand?

16 of 34 Libraries may close
With less than two weeks to go, before the Warwickshire Libraries Facing the Challenge Consultation closes - some community groups have hit a dead end.

One local group, that does not want to be named, met WCC Library Officials at Shire Hall over three weeks ago. Many questions went unanswered until yesterday - three weeks to wait. Its all to do with hidden costs.

It seems actual income (from the published WCC FTC) are 26% less than previously stated. WCC says income figures are not real, only budget figures.

What about IT costs? WCC reply, '...if the service stays in the same building there is an annual charge for the communications link of £3,112.22, if the service is moved to a new building there will be an installation charge of £9908.28, plus the £3112.22.'

No surprise that, this community group is left feeling quite angry as this has never been mentioned before. Their conclusion - it should be provided free.

As our PCs will be reduced from 4 to 1, can we buy extra machines? 'Yes, Additional WCC pcs currently cost £875 + VAT per annum each.' Community response, 'How ridiculous. We asked them to investigate why these high charges are necessary and what the true costs of licences are. As yet we have no reply.'

Library Management System Can we have access to financial income information from the LMS network?  WCC, 'Sorry, this is not possible.' How are we expected to run what is effectively a small business without this information?

Can we have access to names, addresses of the library users (in case of lost tickets etc)? WCC: Contact with another library will be necessary to access the library membership number of anyone who has forgotten their card.' 

We wish to have a fully functioning library not one where work is restricted by such issues, what ways can you solve this? WCC, 'Sorry no – access to the whole data base is not possible.'

CRB checks. Another Community group made a business case where there is no legal requiement for CRB checks (on library workers/volunteers).  WCC reply: 'As part of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, a new scaled-back vetting scheme and fundamental reform of criminal records checks has been proposed by the Government but has yet to become law. For now, the Criminal Records Bureau is responsible for the disclosure of criminal records and the Independent Safeguarding Authority is responsible for the barring function. (On commencement of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, the CRB and the ISA will merge.)
The present position in relation to CRB checks is therefore as follows:

The Criminal Records Bureau is an Executive Agency of the Home Office which provides wider access to criminal record information through its Disclosure service for England and Wales. Disclosure is governed by the Police Act 1997 and The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

CRB checks should be obtained in relation to those people who are working/volunteering (or seeking to work/volunteer) with children or vulnerable adults. There are two types of checks that can be requested – Enhanced and Standard. Both require a fee (£44 and £26, respectively), but are free to volunteers.

Under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, a person with a criminal record is not required to disclose any spent convictions, unless the position in question is listed as an exception under the Act. However, those working/volunteering in libraries are likely to be eligible to undergo Standard CRB checks. Enhanced checks may also be necessary for those who regularly supervise or are in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults.”

Would volunteers require CRB checks and, if so, who will pay for them? WCC, 'Yes, this should be part of the recruitment process. The community group will be responsible for all charges and needs to identify funding to pay for CRB checks.'

CONCLUSION from the Community group, 'You cannot seek to jettison your costs to the voluntary sector and then expect to be able to totally control how a voluntary operation is run.  A huge dose of realism is required here or this whole project could come to grief.'

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