Mobile library survives axe
THE Clarence Valley's mobile library service has survived a sustained attack on the Clarence Valley Council meeting room floor.
At Tuesday's council meeting a motion calling for the service, which takes library services to outlying communities in the region, to be halted "as soon as practicable", was defeated, but the result was closer than the voting outcome suggested.
Despite public approval for the service, Cr Arthur Lysaught moved that mobile library service cease immediately, although he accepted this should read "as soon as practicable".
He also moved that the physical service be replaced with a digital service.
Cr Lysaught said the council could not sustain the $30 a visit cost of the service for each of the 1200 to 1250 users.
"You could buy each of them a Kindle (an e-reader) and teach them how to download books," he said.
"It's gradually heading in that direction as we speak. It is becoming the reality in the rest of the world."
Councillors who opposed his motion admitted the mobile visits were on borrowed time.
Cr Margaret McKenna said it was time for a change, but not as "soon as practicable."
For Cr Jason Kingsley it was a case of "not wanting to be the mobile library grinch".
"It's been identified sections of the community still want this," he said. "I can't support a slash and burn approach."
Cr Andrew Baker strongly supported the motion.
"We do have to make wholesale attempts to cut this sort of thing," he said. "We need to stop somewhere."
Councillors voted down the motion, but approved a foreshadowed motion from Mayor Richie Williamson for a pared down service which reduced the costs of the service to $93,587.
This service would have fewer stops in outlying areas, have fewer days on the road, use a van instead of a truck, use the van for tourism promotions in peak periods, and be used to teach current users how to switch to using a digital service. It also supported phasing out the mobile service over five years as a digital service kicks in.
Costs to the council were also reduced by accepting a State Government grant of $132,000 to buy the new vehicle.
The mayor also noted for many users, their rates notice and mobile library were the only contact they had with the council.