The proposals

Proposal 3

Work collaboratively with rural communities to explore alternatives to the mobile library service which are more affordable for the future but which still reaches those in rural areas who cannot easily access a physical library.

We currently serve 354 communities through 455 stops by four mobile library vehicles. The service was reviewed in 2010/11 when service delivery criteria were introduced for the first time. These are:

  • the mobile library will not stop within two miles of a static library
  • each mobile stop should serve at least four regular users
  • the minimum stopping time for a community will be 20 minutes.

In the past 12 months we have again reviewed the service and as a result have:

  • removed 65 stops due to low use
  • changed the remaining stops from fortnightly to monthly frequency.

Over 1,500 mobile library users responded to the 2013 consultation and it is clear that the service is highly valued. However, it’s an expensive and inefficient way to deliver services. In 2011/12 it cost £6.24 per visit compared to an average of £3.84 for static libraries. Vehicles tend to spend an average of 40% of their time on the road rather than serving customers.

Other models have been introduced in some communities. In Broadhempston a Library Link Collection has been set up in the community shop and Post Office. Volunteers look after the collection, ensuring the stock is swapped on a regular basis with the nearest ‘link’ library and reserving items for customers online and collecting them from the link library.

We propose to work with rural communities to identify alternatives to the mobile library service which are more efficient, but which still enable those in rural areas to have access to a library service. A mix of alternatives could include:

  • services to housebound people provided by volunteers in the Home Library Service
  • community transport to the nearest library or Devon Centre
  • community drop-off points
  • providing library-related activities at children’s centres or other community venues
  • technology-based solutions, such as e-readers
  • partnerships with commercial or social enterprises.

Find out more in the Mobile libraries information pack.

Give us your feedback on the proposals.