Mobile library for remote rural areas faces the axe
Library users living in remote parts of Devon could see their mobile service slashed under plans to cut costs by a half.
Devon County Council is launching a consultation with mobile library users over proposals which would remove underused stopping places from some routes and reduce the frequency of the service.
Roger Croad, the council's cabinet member responsible for the service, said costs had to come down.
"The mobile library service costs nearly twice per customer, compared to the average cost per customer to our static libraries," he said.
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"Sixty-nine of the 522 mobile library stops are used by just three or fewer customers.
"When we undertook a major review of the mobile library service three years ago, we introduced criteria to ensure the stops were well used. We have now reviewed usage of all stops and our proposal is to remove these significantly underused stops from our routes, but maintain the service to the majority of customers.
"We have four mobile vehicles approaching the end of their useful life, and if these proposals go ahead, it would mean that we no longer need them, reducing our costs considerably."
An estimated 5,100 people across Devon use the council's fortnightly mobile library service in rural communities not served by a static library.
Currently eight mobile libraries make 522 stops around Devon, stopping for between 20 minutes to three hours.
However, visitor figures show that 69 stops are significantly underused, with just three or fewer people using these stops.
The council wants to remove the stops from its service, affecting 160 mobile library users. The remaining 4,900 users could see their frequency reduced from fortnightly to monthly stops, although borrowing times would be changed to reflect a new timetable.
The council's home delivery service to residents who are disabled or who can no longer physically access library services would not be affected.
The change would reduce the council's spending by £200,000 a year.
It would also reduce the council's mobile fleet by four vehicles, which are now due to be replaced.
A six-week consultation period starts this week and once comments have been analysed, the council hopes to make a decision in December with a view to introducing any changes to the service in the new financial year.