As Halifax prepares to spend over $20 million on a new Downtown library, residents outside the city core are losing their last easily accessible mobile library service. Funding for the bookmobile, a service that dates back to the 1960's, has been cut in the library's 2011-2012 operating budget. Principal funding was cut by the city in 2010-2011, although apparently not publicized until now. The library says that the current bookmobile vehicle has reached end of life, and would require the purchase of a new vehicle within two years.
For the areas that it serves, including busy Fall River (which isn't expected to get a new library for years) the loss is expected to be tremendous.
White’s Lake, Dutch Settlement, Enfield, Fall River, Dean, Upper Musquodoboit, North Preston, Seaforth, Lake Echo, Middle Musquodoboit, Eastern Passage, Terence Bay, Brookside, Middle Musquodoboit, West Chezzetcook, East Preston, North Preston, and Porter’s Lake will all lose direct access to books, and digital media such as DVDs.
The Musquodoboit Valley area will now be offered a "books by mail" service. It is unclear what library patrons in other areas will do.
Public schools in these areas depend on bookmobile service to augment already thin budgets for their own libraries, and senior citizens who are unable to make the journey to the city will lose access to books.
In a letter sent to all employees, the library says "It is clear from the review of use patterns that most library users are already using the branch to which their community is being assigned" although a library information sheet found on their website states that use of the bookmobile increased 5.6% in 2008-2009 over the previous year (PDF).
Other municipalities in Nova Scotia continue to operate very successful bookmobile services.