06 Nov 2012 Last updated at 00:00

Council to invest in new mobile libraries

Two new mobile libraries will be delivering services to Island communities from next year as part of ongoing investment in the network.

The two vehicles will replace the council’s existing mobile libraries which as well as being relatively old, and increasingly prone to breakdown, are too large to access some rural locations and sheltered housing developments.
The new vehicles will carry a similar number of books to the present ones, but will be slightly smaller and more manoeuvrable, thus better suited to the Island’s needs.
News of the investment in the two new mobiles comes on the back of the government’s view that it considers the library service run by the Isle of Wight is a "comprehensive and efficient" one, which is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
The routes that the two vehicles will follow is currently being drafted but is likely to include several new locations while they may also stop outside schools at hometime to give children and their parents a better chance to use the library service. The mobiles will also feature free internet access, allowing rural customers the same access enjoyed by people visiting branch libraries.
More time with customers

The new vehicles complement other recent investment in the council’s library service, which includes the installation of self-service kiosks. These allow library staff to spend less time checking books in and out and give them more time to talk to customers and help them choose their books. The kiosks will also give staff more time to work with recently-formed friends' groups and other local organisations to develop exciting events and activities within libraries for both adults and children.
Council leader, Councillor David Pugh, said the recent development of the Island’s library service investment was in tune with a key finding of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee which has looked into library closures across the country.
“That report found that a key to a good library service was making it flexible and available to the whole local population. That need not be done in dedicated buildings but in whatever way met the local need,” said Councillor Pugh, who gave evidence to the committee earlier this year.
“In rural areas such as ours that also have a large population of older people, it is essential that we are able to take the service out to the community. The addition of the new purpose-built mobile libraries will enable us to do just that.”
Support for volunteers

Councillor Pugh also echoed the committee’s finding that volunteers running community libraries must be given adequate support from councils if they were to remain viable.
There are five such community libraries on the Island, supporting the six run directly by the council.
Councillor Pugh said: “I cannot overstate my appreciation for the contribution made by the many volunteers who have taken such an important role in running community libraries. Given the reduction in grant from government, the council simply could not afford to maintain all 11 libraries and it is thanks to these volunteers that the Island has not lost a single library.
“As acknowledged by the commons select committee, the council supports these community groups in a number of ways and this support will continue as will investment in those libraries the council retains.”

Self-service kiosks are freeing up staff to spend more time with customers
Self-service kiosks are freeing up staff to spend more time with customers
  • There are 11 local libraries on the Isle of Wight.
Isle of Wight