Cornwall Mobile Library Service

Posted on: 16th June 2014

Cornwall Mobile Library Service was today discussed at the Partnerships Portfolio Advisory Committee. People can see the full papers on the Cornwall Council website by following the links to Council and Democracy and then meetings.

A huge resource has been devoted to the consultation regarding the mobile Library service/ rural outreach services and the way to half the amount of money spent without leaving vulnerable people in rural communities cut off from yet another service. 2 options of halving the number of mobile library vans from 4 to 2 and cutting the mobile service entirely were put to consultation. Both options would allow expansion of the home delivery service/ volunteer drivers taking people to their nearest library and community based library facilities, in community halls and pubs.

2,600 people responded to the consultation and these made clear that the Mobile Library Service is much valued by those who use it but that some who use it could benefit equally well from a increased home delivery service and a linked service that could take people from their homes to the nearest static Library, in our case to St Just Library. From accounts given at the committee meeting by councillors, representing people who live in even more remote and rural communities than St Just and Pendeen, it was clear that going to a nearby static library was not an option and the small hamlets that the mobile van can visit do not have pubs or other community buildings and sadly many do not have daily bus services. The results of the survey caused the Officers to come up with a new 3rd option for the committee to consider and that was keeping one mobile library van for those areas least served by a static library or other community facilities that might support a community library service. I spoke in favour of this option but did not have a vote (I am not a member of the committee) but the vote, very narrowly went in favour of the 2nd option, to do away with all mobile library vans.

The challenge is to get from the position now, with a mobile library service, to a position of none and the strategy for achieving that is not in place. I have suggested that the RVS (Royal Volunteer Service), who provide volunteers to take books to people who cannot get to the library or could take people by car to the local library, needs to be advertised widely asap. Many people do not realise this help is available. This might also help the RVS recruit more volunteer drivers as this service will need to be greatly expanded, when the mobile library vans stop running. If you could be a volunteer driver then go to St Just library and put your name forward to be a volunteer with the RVS.

The decision is not made because the recommendation of scrapping the mobile library vans will go to Cabinet and they will make a recommendation to Full Council. Adam Paynter, the Cabinet member responsible for the Library Service has indicated that the mobile library vans will not disappear until the end of the financial year to allow time to put other provision in place.