Councillors slam mobile library

CLARENCE Valley councillors have turned their sights onto the mobile library service, claiming the $148,000 service did not provide value for money.

At Tuesday's Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community meeting, councillors discussed a proposal to reduce costs of the service by using a smaller vehicle and reducing the number of stops it made to its users in outlying areas of the Valley.

>> RELATED: Council to open new digital chapter for library

Cr Arthur Lysaught was critical of the costs of the service, considering so many now had access to the "digital highway".

He said spending $148,000 on the 1200 to 1250 mobile library members came in at around $30 a visit and asked if council had done due diligence on the service.

He was also worried proposed cuts to the service would drive down the number of members and increase the cost per member to $50 a visit.

The director of environment, planning and community Des Schroder said the smaller vehicle, and reduced stops would bring the cost per visit to around $20.

He said the vehicle would cost about $100,000 a year to run and the purchase price would be covered by a grant for mobile library services from the State Government.

Cr Andrew Baker said he would like to see figures without the proposed cuts in the number of stops, but suspected the council would have to "join up to reality".

"When we go with this $30 a visit and then go off to one of the swimming pools and say we cannot afford you at $27 a visit," he said.

"They'll say we don't go to the library, but we want our $27 a visit swimming pool."

The Mayor, Richie Williamson, said the reduction of the library service was shaping as one of the tough decisions that had to be made.

But he pointed out for many of the mobile library service members, this was the only contact they ever had with the council.

"Some of those communities - not all of them certainly - would not see a great deal of interaction with council in some areas," he said.

"They deserve to have at least some service level provided through the mobile library service."

He said the reduction in the number of stops was justifiable and used the experience of his home town of Coutts Crossing as an example.

"The truck stops at the pre-school and then goes to the hall, which is literally across the road, then it drives up to the school hall 700m away. One stop would cater for all of those."

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