Pop up libraries to be trialled ahead of £200,000 cuts to Norfolk mobile libraries

PUBLISHED: 13:46 04 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:46 04 July 2018

A mobile library van. Picture: James Bass

A mobile library van. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

Pilot ‘pop up’ libraries are to be trialled in Norfolk villages, ahead of a shake-up to cut £200,000 from the mobile library service.

Tim Adams, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Cromer. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Tim Adams, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Cromer. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

When it agreed its budget earlier this year, Norfolk County Council outlined how it wanted to reduce the budget for mobile libraries.

The council has eight mobile libraries, but the council, from next year, plans to cut more than 40pc from the budget to run them.

While the particulars of how that money will be saved will not be thrashed out until 2019, councillors yesterday agreed to moves which would set up pilot projects for possible alternatives to the mobile libraries.

The council says half the vehicles in the fleet are coming to the end of their working lives and there is a need to consider how to provide services in the future.

Margaret Dewsbury, chair of the county council's communities commitee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Margaret Dewsbury, chair of the county council's communities commitee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

It is likely to mean mobile libraries will stop calling at some locations where there is a library within two miles or where the statistics show little usage.

But where they do stop they will remain there for at least 20 minutes to encourage social interaction.

Other options being explored include ‘pop up libraries’. That would see a member of council staff, with a vehicle, go to a location such as a village hall or community centre and set up units filled with books people could borrow and computers for people to use.

The ‘pop up’ libraries would be there all day. The council also wants to work with volunteers to see if they might want to set up community-run libraries.

The council acknowledges there is no “one size fits all” solution and the models would not be workable in all parts of the county.

The council’s communities committee today agreed to give the go-ahead for the pilot projects, but with reservations.

Conservative Margaret Dewsbury, committee chairman, said the changes could mean people got to spend more time with the mobile libraries and the pop up libraries - helping tackle isolation.

But Tim Adams, Liberal Democrat councillor for Cromer, said: “I do not know how we can look at it as an investment in the service when we are are inevitably going to see some routes disappear.”

And Chris Jones, Labour councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, said: “It’s not credible that the budget reduction will not result in a reduction to the service.”

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