New mobile library service should be ‘more reliable’

Books for stock use.
Books for stock use.

The council’s mobile library service will remain, but users could be left with a month between visits as savings of £130,000 are sought.

It is just 18 months since the service was reviewed and routes altered, but councillors have agreed to make further changes.

Scottish Borders Mobile Library.

Scottish Borders Mobile Library.

Members agreed to cut the number of operational mobile library vehicles from five to three, but to retain one as a back-up.

One new vehicle will be bought to replace one of the fleet’s ageing vans, and extra staff will be available to cover holidays or periods of sickness absence under the changes.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, said: “I’m happy that we can continue to provide this very important service, even in these very difficult times.

“It will still be a quality service and it will be a more reliable service with a back-up vehicle and staff.”

Councillor Davidson added that outreach work will also be carried out to increase the number of people using the service. She also called for some of the savings to be re-invested into the book budget for the mobile library service.

However, Glenn Rodger, director for education and lifelong learning warned: “The main impact on current service users will be around routes and delivery cycle.

“A comprehensive review of both will be required and it is likely that to retain the policy of visiting individual settlements the service would have to move from a three-weekly to a four-weekly service.”

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne welcomed the retention of the service, but warned that as a non-statutory service it needed to be kept under review, especially due to an increasing move towards e-readers.

Two of the current fleet of vehicles are just over three years old, but the other three are up to 10 years old. It is the oldest of these vehicles that will be sold, with a replacement purchased and brought into service. The next oldest will be retained as a back-up to cover breakdowns and for use with other outreach work.

Against a fall in the number of books loaned from local libraries, the number issued through the mobile library service actually increased between 2009/10 and 2011/12.