Mobile Libraries - The power to bring us together
Originally published by Liberal Democrat Group on Norfolk County Council
Mobile libraries provide a place for rural or remote communities to gather. People enjoy coming together to meet. Mobile libraries offer a chance for a community to connect with each other, share stories, and be a social gathering place. This is especially important in rural, isolated places where the opportunity to connect with others is limited.
Mobile libraries provide rural and remote communities with the same one-on-one services offered in brick and mortar libraries. Even with the advent of the Internet and online library services, human interaction and instruction remains the greatest form of customer service. The mobile library drivers are well known by the users and vice versa so are able to deal with individual concerns and wishes.
Mobile libraries create relationships and promote cohesion. Those who are unable to access a brick and mortar library can sometimes feel as if they are excluded from library services. By creating relationships, mobile libraries are able to better understand the needs of a rural population, incorporate their voice into the council's strategic planning, reduce loneliness and ensure a quality service across the whole of a county. In a similar manner to the Police Community Support Officers they improve social cohesion but are often seen as an "easy" financial cut.
In Norfolk 7525 people use mobile libraries. Almost twice as many more women use the mobile library service than men and twice as many people over 65 use the mobile library service than under 65.
What is the problem?
Well actually the Conservative administration that have cut the mobile library service by 40% all for the sake of £200,000. The County Council's overall budget is almost £1.4 billion and £200,000 is the same amount of money that the Councillor allowances increases cost so the money is extremely easy to find - just reverse the allowances increase.
This cut will all but decimate the mobile library service with a severe reduction in the number of routes being serviced.
Is to reverse the proposed cuts to the service and instead reimagine the service.
The libraries need to work alongside the static branch library in a way that meets the needs of the local community and the people they serve. It will require innovative thinking working alongside each of the local communities.
And it will involve greater promotion of the routes that are available and how mobile libraries helps the people in those local communities.
We want to see a greater connected Norfolk ensuring everyone has fair and equal access to services and making a better life for local communities. For those who know the joy that a visit from a mobile library can bring to their lives we do not want to see that taken away for the sake of a few pounds. The purpose of local government is to make our lives better not worse.