Wednesday, 20 April 2016 18:42

Hampshire reshapes library services

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Hampshire reshapes library services

Volunteers will be asked to take rural residents to their local library after the mobile service closes in Hampshire.

A library service fit for the future would be delivered following one of Hampshire County Council's largest ever public consultations, said the local authority.

The county's library strategy was approved on Monday (18 April) after the council collected some 9,500 responses during the consultation.

The strategy would help meet customers' demands for a modern service – making the most of digital technology and investing in library buildings, it said.

Planned improvements include exploring the use of electronic self-service counters to provide extended opening hours in some locations.

Meanwhile, a "home library service" would be expanded to replace the relatively high-cost mobile library service, said the council.

Some 62% of consultation respondents were in favour of stopping the mobile library service which was used by just 1% of total library customers.

The mobile library costs £11.44 per visit per customer, compared to £2.23 per static library visit.

Mobile library vehicles were also in need of frequent repair as they neared the end of their ten-year leases, said the council.

As a result, the Mobile Library Service would no longer run after June this year.

Voluntary sector groups would be asked to provide community transport to help rural communities access their local static library when they no longer had a mobile stop.

The library service would also work with local communities in the 20 busiest mobile library stops to identify opportunities for volunteers to deliver books to community gatherings.

Free online library learning sessions would be offered to communities that would no longer have a mobile library stop.

Hampshire County Council said it was facing its most challenging period of prolonged national austerity measures, with huge reductions in its central government funding.

Closure of the mobile library service would contribute £360,000 towards a total library savings target of at least £1.7 million by 2020, said the local authority.

Further savings were set to be delivered through a combination of the following approved proposals which also received public support during the consultation.

These included sharing library buildings with partner organisations (77% agreed) and withdrawing poorly used library collections such as CDs, games, and DVDs (75% agreed).

The number of trained volunteers to support paid library staff would be increased (58% agreed).

Further details, including the consultation results and a draft of Hampshire's revised library strategy, can be found here.

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