Mobile libraries may be shelved


THE weekly mobile library service to 16 Mornington Peninsula towns may be taken off the road permanently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service was stopped in March due to state government coronavirus restrictions and replaced by a home delivery service.

Mornington Peninsula Shire says the alternative has been so popular that it had decided to review the future of the mobile service.

Libraries, arts and culture manager Karina Lamb said the online “click and deliver” was used 1729 times during its first three weeks.

“We’ve received exceptional feedback on this service, and it has prompted us to take a fresh look at how we can best deliver library services to our residents,” Ms Lamb said.

“A review is currently under way and no decisions have yet been made. As part of the review, we will shortly be sending out a survey to ensure the community has input into the decision-making process.”

However, not all mobile library users were not happy to learn that the service may end.

“Many residents in towns without a library rely on this weekly service and can pick up their reservations there as well as drop books off,” Julie Lewis, of Balnarring, said.

“Browsing the shelves, I have often found a good book to read and our grandchildren have enjoyed going in to the library bus to choose a book.

“This proposal [to end the mobile service] has not been discussed with the community and people affected by a closure.

“It’s a wonderful resource and a book delivery service once a month is no substitute for being able to choose your own books and maybe discovering a new author or unknown gem on the shelves.”

Before it closed the mobile library, the shire said it stopped at 16 towns each week “and has over 2500 of the latest books, talking books, DVDs and magazines to choose from”.

Shoreham Community Association secretary David Day says some residents are unable to access libraries in Rosebud, Mornington, Hastings and Somerville.

“In the Western Port area people live outside of major townships and do not have public transport available on a regular basis to access the main libraries,” Mr Day stated in a letter to councillors. “The mobile library is seen as essential service, plus it also enables people to meet together socially on a weekly basis.

“The library also caters for young children which is a bonus for young mothers who can feel somewhat isolated. Adding a toy library to the service would be a bonus.”

Mr Day said that during lockdown some communities had created their own libraries.

“Shoreham used the local Post Office as a book exchange, others used a local shopping centre. Residents in our communities were able to deliver books to others during this uncertain time to ensure they had provision of reading matter and a source of sanity.”

He a review of the mobile library could be made by a group including councillors and shire officers and should consider “how the service is delivered and what adaptions could be made to enrich and continue the service”.

“In fairness, while a swimming pool has proved a costly venture in Rosebud, the area of Western Port, especially the Red Hill Ward, which is the largest ward on the peninsula, still has unmet social needs.”

First published in the Mornington News – 19 January 2021


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