23rd Sep, 2018

Mobile library service to be replaced with 'bespoke' home deliveries

Felix Nobes 6th Sep, 2018 Updated: 12th Sep, 2018

A MOBILE library service in Solihull is set to be scrapped next April and replaced with home deliveries.

A council officer’s report on Tuesday to Solihull’s cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport, Joe Tildesley, recommended the £32,000 mobile service is replaced.

It was designed to enable people with restricted access to libraries and community venues to borrow books.

It operates on a three weekly cycle and delivers books to 45 stops in the borough, with about 250 regular users, the council claims.

The council argues use of the mobile service has changed with the advent of the internet.

It claims that over the last seven years customer use has declined by a quarter.

It also says the target audience has also altered with customers being disproportionately females over 65.

The new services will be tailored towards people who are in care homes, housebound or less mobile, and placing book collections in community buildings.

Residents will be able to make selections over the phone or face-to-face.

The report’s recommendations state: “The preferred option will provide greater customer choice, a more personalised enhanced service for those who are unable to access a fixed library location and the opportunity to be signposted to other services to enable an improved quality of life.

“It will also provide customers with a wider range of stock to choose from, including digital technologies such as e- books, e-newspapers and e- magazines.

“Customers will also be afforded the opportunity to try these technologies with support from staff (if desired) in order to access these materials on-line.

“As a result, people may also find it easier to access other information, advice and guidance on-line.

“This approach will deliver a more cost-effective and bespoke service as it will combine the resource currently used for the home delivery service and savings from mobile library.”

The report recommends the same library vehicles would be used to deliver to houses but routes and the number of stops would change.

Green councillor Tim Hodgson said: “The council wants to replace the mobile library with a home delivery service so we’ll be seeking assurances that they won’t be expecting older folk to order books online.

“The demographics who use the current service are heavily over 65 and many of these people won’t have internet access.”

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