Sandwell libraries praised for service

Published 8th July 2019

Sandwell Council provides a “very valued” and “high performing” library service to people in the borough, according to a special survey of its work.

A report by the Local Government Association’s Library Services Peer Challenge makes a point of highlighting the fact that the council had retained a good service despite significant decreases in budgets since 2011.

It reports that the library service benefits from good management and staff who display inclusive and creative working styles and work well with a large bank of volunteers and partners.

The Peer Challenge team, which spoke to 45 people including staff, councillors and partners in a number of meetings involving key stakeholders, also praised the council for the fact that all of the council’s 19 strategic libraries made a significant contribution to the quality of life in Sandwell.

“It was encouraging to hear that the council continues to invest in all its buildings, for example, even the smallest of these at Brandhall, Hill Top and Rounds Green have recently installed accessible toilets,” the report says.

“The political vision for all libraries continues to be great places of opportunity and learning with a strong family and community focus,” it adds.

The Peer Challenge team advised library bosses to look carefully at the development of community hubs in libraries, such as that already proposed at Blackheath Library.

It also urges the council to expand joint procurement activity for libraries with the four Black Country authorities to explore the potential for enhanced joint procurement.

It also suggests that the council should replace old computers and modernise the digital offer in all 19 libraries. 

Councillor Bob Lloyd, Sandwell Council's cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said: “The council is very pleased to have such a useful and thought-provoking report from the Peer Challenge team.

“We were delighted to see that they supported the work we are doing and will look carefully at some of their recommendations for the future.”