With seven of its fleet of nine mobile libraries coming to the end of their working lives, Essex County Council is asking residents for their views on how library services to locations outside of town centres should be delivered.
Over the past seven years, use of mobile libraries has declined by nearly 50%.
The council has no plans to scrap mobile libraries entirely. Instead it is looking at a range of ways to reach people in more isolated places, including mobile libraries and encouraging more people to get involved through volunteering.
This involves helping support the creation of community libraries, staffed by volunteers, in local halls, shops or pubs and extending the Home Library Service, which delivers books to people in their own homes and helps combat social isolation.
The council wants to hear what people think of how it proposes to redraw routes and to share their own ideas for bringing libraries to more remote places.
Councillor Sue Barker, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said: “We know how much people value their mobile library service. But we also know that in recent years, fewer and fewer people have been taking advantage of it.
“Combined with other factors, such as vehicles which are coming to the end of their working lives, we have reached a point where the right thing to do is look again at how we provide these services.
“This is why we are consulting with residents on how we create a mobile library service which is a better fit with people’s lives.
“We want a service which is available at a place and time which suits users; a service which is flexible enough to help volunteers set up a community library in a village hall, pub, sports club or shop. We want a service where volunteers deliver books directly to the door, and can stop to chat with the residents so that we contribute to ending social isolation, and a service which is able to respond to different local needs and settings.
“We don’t want a service which wastes money by having mobile library buses parked in locations at times when no one visits.”
The consultation begins at 9am on Tuesday 19 September and lasts for seven weeks. To have your say, complete the survey online or complete a paper survey available from a mobile library or in your local library. Please note this webpage will not be live until 9am on Tuesday 19 September.