Inspectors from Welsh Government have found that Bridgend County Borough’s library service ‘remains resilient and continues to meet the needs of residents’.
The service, which is delivered by Awen Cultural Trust on behalf of Bridgend County Borough Council, was assessed for the period between 2019 – 2020 against Welsh Public Library Standards criteria.
Local libraries were ranked best in Wales for customer satisfaction after the majority of users rated them as being ‘very good’ or ‘good’ for their choice of books, customer care, IT facilities and overall service.
With new members increasing from 346 per 1,000 head of population in 2018-19 to 377 in 2019-20, the inspectors highlighted how the service has continued to perform well, particularly in reducing barriers to access across the community such as the removal of fines and the introduction of automatic renewals.
The number of adult and children’s books issued during the period increased by 25 per cent when compared to 2017-18, while the free Books on Wheels home delivery service helped provide ‘a lifeline to those with a disability, health condition or illness’.
The inspectors found that while Covid-19 restrictions have been challenging for all library services in Wales, the resilience of staff and their professionalism and care for the communities they serve has been outstanding.
Inspectors also praised efforts to enhance and improve services, with local developments taking place such as the new library planned as part of the £7.9m transformation of Maesteg Town Hall and the increased space at Porthcawl Library to enable more room for browsers, children’s books and ICT resources.
Cllr Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, said: “This is an excellent result and I would like to congratulate Awen Cultural Trust on their efforts to provide a first-rate library service for the residents of Bridgend County Borough.
“A further report is now being prepared to consider how resources can be best used to support further library operations linked to Covid-19 recovery planning, including future venue availability and alternative approaches to delivering and improving services.”