The Future of the Mobile Library Service in Cornwall

A review of the Council’s mobile library service has been undertaken. The review was two parts; the usage and reducing costs due to the huge budget pressures the Council now faces. The last major review of the stops / service was seven years ago in 2006/7.

The cost of the current service is £220,000 per year and stops at 655 locations. The average number of visits per stop is 3.65 over the last year. For Porthleven the total number of visits in the five stops Porthleven currently has is 27.53. This is further broken-down of users for Porthleven:

  • Porthleven School – 3.24
  • Atlantic Inn – 2.83
  • Sunset Drive – 8.17
  • Torleven Road – 2.45
  • Porthleven Harbour -10.83

mobile LibAs you can see, the total usage in Porthleven is above the average if you combine all the stops together. However, only two stops have usage that makes the stops viable.

Today at the Council’s Cabinet, there were three options put forward. The most drastic was to stop the service completely. This is not an option I support. During the debate both within the Cabinet and the non-Cabinet members valid points were put forward on the merits of be mobile library service and elements should be retained.

The Cabinet decided that Option Three would be supported by a vote of 9 to 1. I supported this as it gives savings put also allows a mobile library service in Cornwall.

Option Three is 1 countywide mobile library van, the following criteria has been used in order to reduce the number of stops to a manageable level:-

  • Removal of stops where the average number of visits per stop over the last financial year is less than 3;
  • Where an existing stop is within 3 miles of a branch library or within 2 miles of another mobile library stop or micro library, the stops have been combined or removed;
  • Where stops have been combined, the new stop has been situated at the previous busiest stop in a locality although this would require local consultation to determine whether another local venue would be more mutually acceptable;
  • Frequency of visits to stops is monthly and duration 20 minutes per stop.

Applying this criteria reduces the number of stops to 172 across the county. Porthleven will see under Option 3 a mobile library service visit the Harbour Head. I need to point out that this service would stop if there is a community hub library. However, I believe having a community hub-library could result in a better provision for Porthleven – which I will cover next.

In Option 3, there is also funding up to £1,000 for communities to form a hub style library. I have blogged about this before and the idea has been supported by Porthleven Town Council. I have registered Porthleven’s interest in this scheme. I am now looking at suitable locations in Porthleven. This includes town council owned facilities; community facilities and churches, chapels and places of worship.

The decision today will not be popular to some, but the mobile library service like many other service are going to change and / or stop. You cannot find £196m and think services will continue at the same level. In the next few years, decisions like the one today will be made.

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