WEST Gippsland Libraries says it will boost library services to south coastal towns by replacing its South Coast Mobile truck with a combination of new methods designed to make library services accessible to more people.
The towns of Coronet Bay, San Remo, Corinella, Kilcunda, Grantville, Fish Creek, Toora, Sandy Point, Tarwin Lower and Welshpool currently receive a visit from the mobile library truck every week or fortnight, depending on the location, for a period of one to two hours.
But the West Gippsland Library Corporation says the truck is now more than 20-years-old and breaks down frequently, resulting in costly repairs.
Usage has declined over the past three years, indicating that it’s no longer the best way to deliver library services to these communities, according to West Gippsland Libraries.
The mobile library will be retired by June 30, 2019, and will be replaced with a suite of services being actively pursued.
The corporation’s looking at working with community groups to set-up micro libraries or book drop-off and pick-up points, with longer hours compared to the truck.
People would still have the ability to place holds, and have books and other physical loans delivered to these micro sites, and people can speak with librarians over the phone to get book recommendations and assistance.
Other improvements include:
• Boosting outreach programs and events to schools, kinders and public spaces in the affected towns; with improved access to the Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time programs that people who attend static library sites enjoy.
• More author talks and other special events to public spaces and places, for example, the corporation holds author talks at the Fish Creek Hotel.
• Redeveloping the Foster Library and extending the Foster opening hours, alongside recently opening the Phillip Island Library on Mondays.
• Helping communities understand how to access free online movies, books and music.
• Working one-on-one with patrons who have accessibility concerns, with librarians continuing to visit affected areas to ensure they’re meeting the needs of patrons with accessibility issues.
West Gippsland Libraries CEO Leanne Williams said the aim of any new service delivery method would be to enable more people to enjoy what libraries had to offer.
The numbers of active patrons who used South Coast Mobile Library in the last 12 months were 121 people in South Gippsland Shire and 252 in Bass Coast Shire.
“Only a small number of people actively use the mobile library, with numbers declining over the past few years, and usage well below the Victorian benchmark for library services,” Ms Williams said.
“In a review of mobile library services, people told us that the quality of the services we deliver was more important to them than how we deliver it.
“We’ll be seeking further input from existing patrons in these towns via a survey which has been emailed and direct mailed to patrons today.”
There will be no reduction in staff numbers, the corporation said.