New mobile libraries launched at Bloxwich

Mayor Gary Clarke cuts the ribbon while Cllr Harris and Sue Grainger look on (Pix by Stuart Williams) 

Walsall residents unable to get to a library are already beginning to benefit from two new specialist mobile libraries.

The new state-of-the-art vehicles were raring to go following their official unveiling on Friday 4 March 2011 at the Mobile Library Headquarters in Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich, at 2.30pm.

Highlighted in bright purple and orange, the new vehicles certainly catch the attention of library users and passers-by – and have already proved a popular success on Saturday’s World Book Night (see separate story).

Having cut the cake, Cllr Harris joins the Mayor to show it off, with Mobiles 1 (right) and 2 looking on!

And on Friday a special ribbon was cut by Mayor of Walsall Councilor Gary Clarke to symbolise the beginning of their service, followed by the cutting of a celebratory cake by Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure and culture.  Both men, together with an assembly of staff and guests, were welcomed to the Mobile Libraries HQ by Sue Grainger, Walsall Council’s Head of Libraries & Heritage, and all spoke of their strong support for libraries in Walsall.

Staff of Mobile 1 and Mobile 2 join Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service (right)

Interiors of Mobile 1

From its base in Bloxwich, the mobile library service has been running in Walsall since 1982.

Purple-coloured Mobile One has replaced the existing vehicle which has been in service since November 1999 and which had clocked up nearly 90,000 miles. The vehicle regularly visits over 40 sites across the borough on a weekly timetable, offering a wide choice of adult & children’s books plus audio books.

In contrast, Mobile Two, (orange) is programmed for serving a number of sheltered accommodation sites, adult training centres, residential and nursing homes in Walsall, providing the same service, with a selection of DVDs and music CDs.

Both libraries are fitted with public access computer suites as well as compact equivalents of the online library management systems found in fixed libraries.

Mobile 1 on its rounds at Alumwell Estate, Walsall. Note the rooftop solar panels!

Leicester Carriage Builders have provided the library service with the new range of vehicles which are capable of travelling on urban and rural roads throughout the borough. They complement the council’s existing network of 16 libraries. Based on the Mercedes Atego chassis, the vehicles are valued at £138k each and replace the current models.

Remarkably, both mobiles’ roofs are covered with self-cleaning solar panels providing up to 50% of the power required to power the computers and lighting for both vehicles, which run on  efficient Euro 5 engines. This could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 600kg each year and helps toward meeting the council’s air quality targets.

Councillor Anthony Harris said: “I’m delighted that we’ve made this investment in our mobile library service. People rely on their mobile library especially residents who are less mobile and find it difficult to travel to our main library buildings.

“Walsall was the first local authority in the country to offer Internet access to the local community from a Mobile Library.

“With these new replacement vehicles, Walsall Library Service now has a fleet of modern, comfortable and efficient mobile libraries.”

Annie Wood, Area Librarian for Walsall Mobile Library Service added: “The Mobile Library vehicles offer a free library service to customers at point of delivery.

“The stock ranges from fiction and non-fiction in large and small print, books in Asian languages, books for children of all ages and books on tape and CD, music CDs and a selection of Jigsaws.”

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