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Mobile Library van will be missed by many

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It was somewhat sad to hear news that the mobile library which has been such a faithful friend to readers right around the region will soon be off the road.

Declining demand, rising costs and new technology have all combined to signal the end for the van, which has brought great enjoyment to book and knowledge lovers for around 30 years.

As the High Country Library Corporation has admitted, it was a tough decision to make and no doubt there will be many people very disappointed with the outcome.

The challenge now is to make sure that those in more isolated rural areas, and those with mobility problems, are not cut off from library services.

The internet, more flexible community transport services and in-home services will all play a part in hopefully ensuring that the loss of the van does not mean the loss of access to the wonderful, wide world of literature.

We would look forward to our cherished library service continuing to grow and expand – albeit without its much-loved and very successful mobile element.

Page 6 – THE CHRONICLE EDITORIAL, Friday, September 1, 2006

Watchdog Comment:

Back in June, the Watchdog reported on the High Country Survey and the inevitability of losing the mobile library. It is worth reading again:

One of the fears of those opposed to the joint RCoW-GoTafe library venture is that the mobile library service has not been included in the planning procedures.

With the recent ‘Mobile Library Service Survey’ signed by Ann Heywood (RCoW Executive Manager-Community & Social Planning) and posted to rural residents, that fear is well founded.

The survey is to explore whether $100,000 for a new bookmobile could be better spent by users accessing the library on the internet, organised trips to the branch library or delivery of library material to a local community facility.

Accessing the library on the Internet allows members to reserve an item for later collection – but so too does the telephone. The reality is that most library members are not on the Internet. If they were, they could probably access the full texts via Google Texts or other similar services eliminating the need for a local library. Now, if the Library Corporation would provide full texts online, that would be an improved service.

Organising trips to the branch library is not valid when many library members already travel up to 20 kilometres to access the bookmobile. People in rural areas do not live in townships. An organised library trip from the Upper King Valley would become a full day exercise from picking up the clients who live many kilometres apart – taking them to the library – and then returning them home. That is too much to ask of elderly residents who simply want to read a book. If the RCoW could organise a weekly library trip allowing residents to shop in Wangaratta or visit a doctor, they might be on to something.

Delivery of library material to a local community facility would certainly save the RCoW lots of money as the books, etc can be thrown in the boot of a car or consigned to a school bus for delivery. However, the only community facility with existing staff available in the Upper King Valley is the Whitfield Community Health centre and that is only open on a part time basis. Such a concept will certainly eliminate the ‘part of the social fabric of some of our smaller towns’ which the survey letter claims has been created by the Mobile Library Service.

Rural rates are contibuting to the costs of the joint RCoW-GoTAFE library and will be of no benefit to those dependent upon the Mobile Library Service. The RCoW has an obligation to not only maintain the mobile service, but to improve it to the same degree claimed for urban residents with the joint library project.

This survey can only be perceived as another attempt to cut back services in the rural areas.

And so it has come to pass!


Written by Greg Naylor

3 September 2006 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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