Ombudsman probes Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s criteria and procedures for procuring and withdrawing library materials
12 January 2016
The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, announced today (January 12) a direct investigation into the criteria and procedures adopted by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) for procuring and withdrawing library materials to examine whether there are any inadequacies.
According to a media report, hundreds of cardboard boxes sealed with tape of the Hong Kong Central Library were found disposed of on a pavement. The boxes contained more than 10,000 books withdrawn from the library. Some of those books appeared to be brand new with barely any check-out records. The LCSD was thus criticised for being wasteful and not environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, the Office received public complaints alleging that public libraries under the LCSD had not managed their book collections with due care, resulting in improper withdrawal of certain library materials.
The Office’s preliminary inquiry shows that the LCSD has in place established mechanisms for procuring and withdrawing library materials, but some of those working criteria and procedures were drawn up many years ago. It is open to question whether those criteria and procedures are still appropriate nowadays, and how the two separate mechanisms for procuring and withdrawing books can complement each other to optimise the library collections.
Ms Lau said, “Public libraries are frequently visited by members of the public and they serve such important functions as promoting local education and culture, providing knowledge and information, and fostering leisure activities. The LCSD has a duty to establish clear criteria and procedures for handling matters related to acquisition and withdrawal of library materials, as well as to conduct regular reviews to keep abreast of the times. If, due to some systemic problems, the public’s right to enjoy library facilities is impeded or public resources are not effectively utilised, it would not only be regrettable, but also mean a failure to meet public expectations.”
The ambit of this direct investigation includes:
(1) the adequacy and effectiveness of the LCSD’s criteria and procedures for procuring and withdrawing library materials;
(2) how the separate criteria and procedures for procuring and withdrawing library materials can be co-ordinated to ensure the effective use of public resources; and
(3) areas for improvement and enhancement.
The Ombudsman welcomes views from the public on this direct investigation. Comments in writing should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by February 17, 2016:
Address: 30/F, China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre
168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax: 2882 8149
Office of The Ombudsman
January 12, 2016