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Poole residents asked for views on mobile library service

Local people are being asked to give their views on proposed changes to the mobile library service in Poole.

Following approval from the Council in July, residents are now being consulted on their use of the mobile library service, as well as being asked for their ideas on alternative services that may be put into place in the future.

The mobile library service in Poole is currently used by 191 residents in areas where there are no branch libraries, as well as providing a library service to 154 residents living in sheltered housing and residential homes. The current cost of the service is £50,000 per year.

As the mobile library vehicle reaches the end of its operational life, the consultation will ask for residents’ views on the possibility of replacing the service with community libraries that offer a similar service but in local premises. These have worked well in other parts of the country where they are run by residents and volunteers in the heart of the community, with a supply of books, training, advice and support from Poole Libraries.

Library users can already access ten branch libraries in Poole, and a Home Library Service delivered by the Royal Voluntary Service supports 300 customers who cannot get to a static or mobile library. This bespoke service delivers books and other resources, and will continue and expand as the needs of users change. A downloadable audio book service and an e-book service, both of which are free to use and do not require a visit to either a static or mobile library, are also already available, alongside comprehensive information and reference services available to library members through the library web pages.

There are also plans to expand the existing service for sheltered housing and residential home customers in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service.

Cllr Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Libraries, Borough of Poole, said: “The Government is reducing its funding for Council Services. Spending by the Council has already been reduced by £43 million and we are making good progress, but need to look again at everything we do. The mobile library vehicle would cost around £100,000 to replace, so we are asking library users and the general public for their views on new services that may replace those of the mobile library, and the impact this may have. In many areas the community libraries bring a new lease of life to local facilities and help bring people together.

"This is a consultation exercise and no decisions will be made until the process is complete and results have been analysed. We recognise that this service is important to its users, and any decision to reduce it will not be taken lightly. However, we believe the alternative services we plan to offer will improve the reach of public libraries to local communities in Poole.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the consultation can do so online at www.boroughofpoole.com/MobileLibraryConsultation or ask for a consultation form in any of Poole’s libraries. There are also three informal drop-in sessions taking place, where residents will be able to talk to library managers to find out more about the proposals:

• Broadstone Library, Saturday 27 September, 10am - 12 midday
• Rossmore Library, Wednesday 1 October, 10am - 12 midday
• Poole Central Library, Saturday 4 October, 3 - 5pm

The consultation closes on Friday 24 October 2014. Once consultation feedback has been analysed, the results will be presented to the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 November 2014, and then to Cabinet on 9 December 2014, with a view to introducing any changes from April 2015.