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Legal information

Complaints procedure

Suffolk Libraries views complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to put things right for the person who has made the complaint.

Our aim is:

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint
  • To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
  • To make sure everyone working for Suffolk Libraries knows what to do if a complaint is received
  • To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
  • To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired if necessary
  • To gather information which helps us to improve what we do.

The policy

What is a complaint?

For the purposes of this policy a complaint is defined as a statement from a customer regarding something unsatisfactory or unacceptable in the service provided by Suffolk Libraries which requires investigation and response from Suffolk Libraries. For clarification, it does not encompass minor complaints made to members of library staff which are resolved to the customers’ satisfaction at the time.


This policy only applies to complaints received from members of the public or library users – not staff.

Who should handle a complaint?

  • The library manager should handle any complaint raised by a customer in the first instance
  • If the library manager is not able to handle the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction, they should refer it to their Executive Library Manager (ELM) for them to handle. If the ELM is not able to handle the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction, it should be escalated to the relevant senior manager who oversees that aspect of the service.
  • All complaints relating to alleged discrimination or unfair treatment by Suffolk Libraries should be referred to the relevant senior manager in the first instance and reported to the Compliance Manager.

How should the complaint be handled?

  • Complaints can be made to Suffolk Libraries in person, by phone, email or in writing
  • All complaints will be treated seriously
  • All complainants will be treated sympathetically and courteously
  • Complaints should be resolved as quickly as possible
  • Complainants should be informed of who is dealing with their complaint and with a timescale if possible
  • If a complaint requires detailed investigation, such as one concerning a member of staff, it must be referred to the ELM who will either investigate it themselves or refer it to their line manager
  • Complaints must be properly investigated to establish what has happened and the findings documented, prior to the customer being provided with a full response. Where necessary, this will involve speaking to staff involved in the circumstances relating to the complaint.
  • On rare occasions, it may be necessary to speak to customers who witnessed an incident and are willing to give an account of what they saw
  • Once the circumstances of the complaint have been investigated, the library manager/senior manager should provide the customer with an explanation of their findings and any action that is being taken. This would normally be provided in writing by email or by letter. However, in some cases – such as if the complaint is about a particularly sensitive issue - it may also be appropriate to speak to the customer either over the phone or in person to explain the findings.
  • If a complainant is not satisfied by the response they receive from Suffolk Libraries, it will be referred to the senior manager responsible for the relevant area of activity. If a senior manager has provided the response with which the complainant is not satisfied, it will be referred to the chief executive. At all stages, the complaint and previous response(s) should be considered and, if necessary, investigated further before the complaint is provided with an additional response.
  • Complaints will be reviewed every six months by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to establish if Suffolk Libraries need to make any changes to its policies or procedures to prevent repeat occurrences.

Making and recording complaints

Complaints can be made to library staff, emailed to or by calling 01473 351249.

Details of complaints that are received by email or phone are recorded on our problem management system. The response from Suffolk Libraries is also recorded.

Where a serious complaint is not received through the email address or by phone, Customer Services will be informed of the complaint and they will manually add a record of it on our problem management system.

For the purposes of this policy, a 'serious complaint' is a complaint that cannot be immediately resolved by a member of staff and requires a direct response to the complainant from an ELM or senior manager.

Complaints recorded through the problem management system are reviewed by the Senior Leadership Team at least every six months in order to identify any particular problems or patterns that may occur.