Decision due on revised Mobile Library Service
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
A number of mobile library stops could have their time increased as part of a review that will be considered by Hampshire County Council in order to ensure the Mobile Library Service reaches as many customers as efficiently as possible.
At his Decision Day on 27 September 2012, the County Council's Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman will be asked to consider the findings of a public consultation held over the Summer. Among the proposals is the removal of 29 under-used mobile library stops.
The Mobile Library Service currently makes 363 stops around Hampshire, mainly on a monthly and weekly basis, but 39 of these stops have fewer than two customers each, or even none, which is not an efficient use of the service. Others stops, however, are very popular and their customers would benefit if the Mobile Library stopped for longer.
Feedback collected from mobile library customers, and district and parish councils has shown support for the review, and in response to suggestions a number changes are now being put forward.
Responding to local demand
Of the 39 under-used stops, it is proposed that 29, spread across the Basingstoke, East Hampshire, Eastleigh, New Forest, Test Valley and Winchester areas, are withdrawn.
The remaining ten would be retained; in Bentworth, Catherington, Hawkley, Selborne, Horton Heath, Winchfield, Brockenhurst, Aldershot, Whitsbury and Knowle Village. Five of these would be moved to a different but nearby location, one would change time, one would combine with another stop and three would remain the same.
Using resources where they are needed most
A further 14 stops that were not part of the consultation could also be changed; one would move location, 10 stops would have their time increased and two would increase in frequency from every four weeks to fortnightly. It is also proposed that three of the weekly stops would reduce in length in order to accommodate some of the other changes and allow for the introduction of two new stops.
Councillor Keith Chapman, said:
"A new, improved, and streamlined Mobile Library Service was launched last Summer as it had not been extensively reviewed in over two decades. We said that we would review the service one year on, and the feedback collected this Summer has been an important part of work that aims to help shape a mobile library service that better meets the needs of Hampshire residents. Thank you to everyone who has taken part and provided their comments.
"As a result, there are now a number of options that will be considered that aim to redirect resources from those stops that were hardly ever used, so that they are put to better use, and help support those more popular stops. It is our aim however to keep any changes to a minimum so that the fewest number of customers would be affected."
In the case of areas where stops may be withdrawn, the County Council will endeavour to ensure that, where possible, customers continue to receive a library service.
Subject to the outcome of the meeting on 27 September 2012, any proposed changes would come into effect on 22 October 2012.
A full review of the Mobile Library Service will be undertaken at the end of 2013, 12 months after the current planned changes are implemented.
Read the full list of proposals for the 39 under-used stops, and proposed changes to the further 14 stops.
This latest review comes a year after the launch of a streamlined mobile library service in 2011, following the need to save more than £500,000 a year and modernise the service which had not been reviewed in over 20 years. At that time, two extensive public consultations were carried out, and it was agreed to further review performance and consult customers once again, a year later.
Customers affected by any decision to withdraw a stop may meet the criteria for a Home Library Service delivered by volunteers if they are frail or disabled and do not have family or friends who can visit the nearest library or another mobile library stop on their behalf as a 'Good Neighbour'. The 'Good Neighbour' scheme allows family and friends to borrow items on someone's behalf without having to pay overdue charges should items not be returned on time.