Mobile library service cut backs in Sussex

In an effort to reduce costs over the next two years, the West Sussex County Council has announced plans to scrap one third of the area’s mobile library service.  Currently there are three vehicles that travel to outlying areas, providing library access to those who can’t get to one of the county’s 36 public libraries.

Council members say that the plan is justified as it will save as much as £65,000 per year, and the cost reduction is necessary to keep the rest of West Sussex’s libraries in operation.  They also say that the remaining vehicles will be re-routed and re-scheduled to try and reach the majority of people who are dependent on the mobile service.

The council wants to cut as much as £654,000 from its library budget over the next two years.  Besides reducing mobile service, they propose to buy about 22,000 fewer books, possibly raise rental charges and increase the fine for lost or damaged books, and dispense with as many as 17 jobs.   There is another proposal in the works for automated self-serve assistance in more libraries, as opposed to qualified, paid librarians.

The opposition says that cutting down on mobile service will ‘devastate’ those who need it the most, specifically the elderly and others in residential care facilities.  The final decision will be made by Councillor Lionel Barnard, and he has been asked to reconsider the proposed plans on the basis that the distribution is unfair and targets the most vulnerable of West Sussex residents.  Cllr Barnard said he is looking into other ways to deliver the service, which might include recruiting volunteers.