Lancashire’s mobile library service is set to be overhauled so that visits are introduced in areas which are currently bypassed by the vehicles and each stop-off lasts at least fifteen minutes.
But communities which currently receive a fortnightly visit will see the frequency fall to once every three weeks when the changes are made next year.
All existing stops will continue to be served – unless they have not attracted a single customer for six consecutive months. The timings of some visits will change under the plans.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet made the decision after a public consultation into the future of the service.
Cabinet member for cultural services, Peter Buckley, said he wanted to “iron out the inconsistencies” in the way the county’s mobile libraries currently operate.
“[The] service is greatly valued within the community, but there is a great disparity of provision…which needs addressing.
“There are some stops [where] nobody gets on and others which are popular – and some stops are bunched together close to a library building, yet there are towns and villages miles away from a library building that do not have any mobile provision at all,” County Cllr Buckley said.
At the moment, three out of the six vehicles which tour the county operate on a two-weekly rota; the others are already operating the less frequent services which will soon be brought in across Lancashire.
The changes will enable additional stops to be planned in, with the new destinations being decided in consultation with parish councils about where they might best be placed.
Previous proposals to scrap stops within a mile of a library building and merge some stops which serve the same community have been dropped. However, no new stops will be added where there is a brick library less than three quarters of a mile away.
County Hall had already agreed plans to replace its fleet of seven mobile libraries – but the changes mean that only six new vehicles will be needed, one of which will be kept as a back-up should any of the others fail. A vacant post for a driver will not now need to be filled.
However, the revised routes will be designed so that cover can be provided “wherever possible” for when a driver is on holiday or off sick. At present, if a driver is absent, the service does not run along their route.