Decision details

Libraries Improvement Fund grant acceptance for a new mobile library

Decision Maker: Assistant Director - Resources (Community Development)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


To seek approval to accept a Libraries Improvement Fund grant of £150,000 to purchase a new mobile library.


That the Assistant Director of Resources for Community Development authorises the acceptance of the grant of £150,000 from the Libraries Improvement Fund.

Reasons for the decision:

The current Mobile library is approaching end of life. An opportunity arose to apply for external funding to replace the vehicle.
The delivery of the mobile library service supports the Target Operating Model of the Council and specifically supports the delivery of locality-based services within the context of a large rural County.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1- Do not replace – The current vehicle is approaching end of life and failure to provide a replacement vehicle would leave some current customers without easy access to a physical library service, particularly those most distant from branch libraries and those less able to travel through lack of transport or cost. 80% of current customers do not use another library. Whilst withdrawing the service would provide a saving in the region of £80k per year, this option has been discounted on the grounds of the impact on rural communities. The Equalities Impact Assessment identified older people, people with a disability, women, families with younger children, carers, and people on low incomes, living in those rural areas, as likely to be most affected.

Option 2- Replace with like for like – The current vehicle is too large to access some areas of the County reducing the options to develop the mobile library service. A 10t, long vehicle would cost considerably more.

Option 3- replace with an electric vehicle- Whilst this would be a positive contribution to the Council net zero ambitions, the technology is not sufficiently developed to provide the range required (current max is 111 miles) and provision of fast chargers would be required. The weight of the batteries would also significantly reduce stock capacity. The cost of an electric vehicle is significantly greater.

Option 4 - purchase a delivery van to drop off books with customers. Due to the constraints of the vehicle we could only carry a small selection of books for people to choose from and would mainly deliver a 'Collection only' service, with no opportunity to develop new audiences/deliver wider services (e.g. To meet others, digital use). The cost of a new van is approx. £20K. This would require a staff resource, though delivery drivers could potentially be paid at a lower grade. The service could be supplemented by Home Library Service volunteer deliveries where viable, with associated travel costs paid. There would still be costs for maintenance and fuel.

Publication date: 28/03/2024

Date of decision: 28/03/2024

Accompanying Documents: