Affordable alternatives to Mobile Libraries
I know that the 511 people who have used Buckinghamshire’s mobile libraries in the past couple of years and have not visited a branch library will really value the enrichment of the library books, magazines and DVDs that our mobile library vehicles quite literally deliver.
It is, however, an unfortunate truth that mobile library service is an expensive one to run, and the amount of people who solely use the mobile service is dwindling – three-quarters of the mobile service stops have four or less customers at a time.
We are currently consulting on proposals to discontinue the service in its present form. But we want to ensure that all our mobile library customers still have the opportunity to use library services; and I want to make it clear that we are not looking to stop the service without having good, affordable alternatives in place for people who struggle to visit library buildings.
Some of the alternatives that could be used include the home library service where a named volunteer visits you at home each month at a convenient time with a selection of books to match your interests; a library buddy, a scheme where your trusted friend, neighbour or family member visits a library to borrow and return items on your behalf; click and collect, where you reserve books over the phone or online to be collected from a nearby venue; or local community book collections, a small selection of books provided to an accessible local building for you to borrow from.
We understand that it isn’t a “one size fits all” scenario – these are proposed options that will allow for more flexible, community-based services that are still easily accessible for all of our library customers. We are looking to develop a service that can be adapted to suit the different needs of local communities, while also helping to tackle wider issues like social isolation.
And, although not suitable for everyone, our online eLibrary service offers a full range of downloadable books, audiobooks and magazines.
Please do take a few minutes to complete our mobile library service consultation – you can do this online at https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/libraries/mobile-library-service-consultation. You can also pick up a printed survey at any library or mobile library stop. The consultation runs until 31 December 2017.
Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health