WEST Gippsland Library has announced that its mobile book service will cease operation by June 30, 2019.
“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,” library CEO Leanne 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.”
Ms Williams said the announcement follows continued support of, and investment in, library services in the region, with Foster Library set for a $92,000 redevelopment, and Phillip Island Library opening permanently on Mondays.
Ms Williams said the library will boost library services to south coastal towns by replacing the truck with a “combination of new methods designed to make library services accessible to more people”
“The mobile is now more than 20 years old, breaks down frequently resulting in costly repairs, and most importantly, usage has declined over the past three years, indicating that it’s no longer the best way to deliver library services to these communities,” she said.
Ms Williams said that loans of electronic movies, books, magazines, free music, and audiobooks have increased across West Gippsland by 38 percent in the last financial year as more and more people discover how easy it is to access library resources from nearly any device at home.
The library is considering the rollout of ‘micro libraries’, where borrowers can place holds and have books and other physical loans delivered to them.
But Fish Creek resident John Rees, a former member of iconic Australian chart toppers Men at Work, believes the loss of the service will be keenly felt by local book lovers.
“It’s a terrible strike, I think, for all the book readers. We need people to read books. We’re living in an age where people don’t read and don’t write,” he said.
“We need to encourage reading, rather than make it disappear. I know it costs a lot of money to run a truck, but there’s a lot of people who have dedicated their lives to this service. It’s a shame. It’s really very sad.”