Mobile libraries to get axe in shake-up

Tuesday 10th May 2016 12:00 pm
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CHANGES to Hampshire libraries, including the scrapping of the mobile library service, have been approved following a public consultation by the county council.

A library service “fit for the future” will be delivered, said the council, which aims to save millions by “improving the service”.

The draft Library Strategy has been shaped by the 9,500 responses collected during the consultation, said the council, and will “provide an approach to meet customers’ demands for a modern service”, making the most of digital technologies and investing in library buildings.

Planned changes include exploring the further use of electronic self-service counters to provide extended opening hours, and the refurbishment of some libraries to make them brighter and more welcoming.

The home library service will be expanded to replace the “relatively high cost” mobile service.

The home service is for people who can not get to the library due to ill health, disability or caring responsibilities, and volunteers deliver books to their homes at least once a month.

A total 62 per cent of consultation respondents were in favour of stopping the mobile library service, the council said, used by just one per cent of total library customers and costing £11.44 per visit.

Mobile library vehicles are in need of frequent repair as they near the end of their 10-year leases and, because of this, the mobile service will no longer run after June. The mobile library has dwindled over the years. Remaining villages set to say goodbye to the mobile library include Lindford and Greatham.

The changes come as the council faces its “most challenging period of prolonged national austerity measures”, with cuts in its funding from the Government in recent years.

The closure of the mobile library service will contribute £360,000 towards a total library savings target of at least £1.7million by 2020.

Further savings are set to be delivered through: sharing library buildings with partner organisations; withdrawing poorly used library collections such as CDs, games, and DVDs, and increasing trained volunteers to support paid library staff.

The draft strategy with specific changes to libraries is set to be considered by the council at a later stage.

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