Clarence Valley’s mayor, Richie Williamson, says the council’s mobile library service will continue, at least until councillors decide which services will be cut as the council moves to conform with the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future program.
The operational, delivery and budget documents adopted at last week’s council meeting state that the truck used to deliver the service “needs replacing at a cost of over $250,000”; and that “savings of $146,100 have been included in the draft 2015/16 budget”.
“The facts are much of the services which was delivered traditionally by the mobile library are now available online via the internet,” the report states.
“Digital library resources are available to the whole community, not only from the Clarence Regional Library, but from sources all over the world.
“For disadvantaged members of our community we offer a home delivery service through our library volunteers.”
During the exhibition process, the council received 25 submissions calling for the service’s retention, including an 87-signature petition organised by Terry Powick, whose children attend Glenreagh Public School.
He also organised a change.org petition, which at the time of writing had a 133 supporters, made a submission (that included the change.org petition) and emailed all of the councillors; however, while his submission is mentioned in the council’s submissions summary document, the details are not included on the web-accessed public record.
He also established a Facebook page: Save The Book Mobile.
Mr Powick said: “I feel that the book mobile services the whole community – a lot of older generations also rely on the book mobile for their books.”
Glenreagh is over 50 kilometres from Grafton, has poor internet and mobile phone coverage and is a low socio economic area.
The mobile library visits every Thursday fortnight, is used by the school’s 60 students and 10 staff and accessed at the town’s post office by the village and surrounding area’s population.
The staff’s comment for all of the received submissions, which seems to contradict the mayor’s position, states: “The [adopted] draft operational plan … eliminates the mobile library service.
“Options include maintaining as is, complete removal or a reduced service level based around only servicing major villages, for example, greater than 30 kilometres from a town library through a combination of E ordering and a small van with limited stops.”
Mayor Williamson said councillors will carry out a “comprehensive” review of the mobile library service, along with reviews of the Grafton saleyard’s operations and the Grafton Regional Gallery, “as the adopted budget”.
“The council has resolved to … find out if there are different ways to provide the service in a more cost effective way,” he said.
“We’ll be looking at different models of delivery.
“For example, can you get online and … order the books you require [for] when [the home delivery service] goes to those areas?”
The council’s community plan states in its strategy, regarding library services, that it aims to “provide innovative and enhanced library services that support and encourage lifelong learning”.
When asked how the council was complying with this strategy, the mayor said: “One way to drive innovation is to move to E books – they are available through the library.
“They are certainly here with us to stay.
“[Also] driving innovation is the rollout of the NBN through many of those regional towns, and … the opportunities that that brings to the table with regard to public services and library services that we now have.
“That’s part of the innovation regarding how libraries are changing. [They will] be a valuable community resource for generations to come.”