POP UP SERVICE: Wrexham’s mobile library could be replaced
Wrexham Council's travelling library has been out of action since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Image: Wrexham Council
A mobile library van which visits isolated communities in Wrexham could be replaced by a new “pop-up” service, it’s been revealed.
The travelling library has been out of action since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus.
In autumn 2020, it was replaced by a pop-up service, where temporary libraries are set up at venues across the area.
Wrexham Council also brought in another service allowing people in rural locations to order books to be delivered directly to their homes.
The local authority is now proposing to make the changes permanent in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint, resulting in the old mobile library service being axed.
In a report to be discussed by politicians later this week, Cllr John Pritchard, the council’s lead member for youth services and anti-poverty, said: “The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the way the council and many other organisations can deliver their services.
“Whilst there has been a significant negative impact on access to services, there has also been many positive outcomes where the use of alternative methods such as remote access and digital information has enabled a greater and more flexible use.
“This came at a time when the council was reviewing the way in which library and information services were being delivered to modernise and transform the service into a future proof accessible service.
“This proposal would ensure that a revised outreach library service can be delivered Covid safely by the library team to residents, communities and library customers.
“This proposed delivery model would be in line with Wrexham County Borough Council’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.”
A total of 178 people recently took part in a consultation into the plans, with 58 per cent expressing an interest in using the pop-up service.
The majority of respondents said they lived in areas which don’t have their own branch library.
Before the pandemic, the mobile library visited dozens of communities in Wrexham on a three-week rota.
Cllr Pritchard said there was a risk some residents would be against the loss of the old service and it would impact the council’s ability to meet Welsh public library standards.
He added there was also a possibility that the authority could be charged to hire venues.
He said: “The mobile library has been a much used and valued service over the years.
“Although library customers have adjusted to the ‘order and deliver service’ and ‘pop-up library service’, there are many that consider these arrangements temporary and expect to see the mobile library back in service as society gradually unlocks.
“Customers need to be reassured that they will still receive a comprehensive service.”
He said library staff had begun talking to venue owners to ask whether their facilities could be provided for free.
The proposals will be discussed by members of the council’s customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee on Thursday (September 30, 2021).
Words: Liam Randall, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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