Norfolk County Council has launched a consultation about changes to the rural mobile library service, as part of proposals to save £13 million.
The six mobile libraries operated by Norfolk County Council stop outside a variety of places within local communities, ranging from playgroups, schools, care homes, and traveller sites – as well as locations where there is high footfall such as parish halls, pubs, and supermarkets. There are currently 1,304 stops and time spent at each stop ranges from 10 minutes to an hour.
The Council is asking for views, to help shape how the reduced funding should be used for the future delivery of the mobile library service and what should be considered when potentially reducing the number of routes.
Our consultation will explore:
- What is important to people currently using or wanting to use the service
- How we should prioritise where and for how long a mobile service happens
- Whether we could introduce and make better use of digital services
- Which partners or other services could work with us to improve the rural and mobile library service
- Whether there are local needs and other factors that will help shape delivery
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “When there are difficult decisions to be made, it is important to us to hear from residents to understand what matters to them and to consider how we can make best use of our resources.
“There may be an opportunity to make better use of our fantastic range of digital services such as eBooks, audiobooks, and online newspapers. We can also encourage people to learn how to use digital devices to help with everyday matters as well as offering a wider choice of reading materials. We are interested in working more widely with partners to get the most out of the service.
“It’s really important that people have their say, so we’d like to hear from as many people who use our mobile libraries as possible.”
With ever-increasing pressures on public sector resources, it is important for local service providers to work together to share resources and investment. Our mobile library services could work with our partners to deliver services fit for the future.
The Council, like all organisations, continues to face higher costs and demand for services. Initial proposals to save £13 million as part of a £60 million target for next year were considered by Cabinet on 4th July, and one of the proposed savings is to reduce the budget for the mobile library service by £200,000 – this is nearly half of the existing budget of £422,000.
The consultation opened on 22nd July and runs until 14th September. You can take part here: https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/consultation/mobilelibraries. The results of the public consultation will be presented to the County Council’s cabinet in November 2022, and final decisions on the council’s budget will be made in February 2023.