Thursday, 20 November 2008

Is ten a good enough number?

Well, after going through all the local authority websites listed on Direct.Gov I found 10 proper specialised Children's mobile libraries (Actually, I think that it is 11 because Leicester has two vehicles), 13 School library service vehicles, and a handful of other shared/dual purpose vehicles. There are some that have come and gone, some that were only meant to be for a short season, just summer holiday storytelling. I had a brief conversation with a school librarian last week, who informed me that when she worked at Staveley in Derbyshire, she has spent some time during the summer holidays on the mobile library. This is something I must follow up. She only did it a few times because she said she suffered from travel sickness and felt very queasy travelling around in the van.

So, the question is, is ten enough or is it just the right number to do a really good investigation? Of course, there may be others that I have not yet unearthed and I will carry on my mission of seeking out children's mobile libraries not only in Britain, but across the universe. The ones that I have found are in Bexley, Birmingham and Blackburn, Edinburgh, Leicester (x2) and Manchester, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Southampton, Stockport and Swansea. There are more School library service mobiles, but I am not sure have relevant they are, or what effect they have on children because they only visit schools, and then at most termly, or merely twice a year. The number of books they allow the classes to borrow varies from just one or two per child, to lots (well, that is not a very specific sum I know, I have the figure 500 in my head, not per child, of course, but per school, or per class, and I can't quite remember what the exact allocation is). They certainly operate to a different model, but that could be something to compare, if 10 is not enough.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I'm up to M now.

Haringay have two children's mobiles, but it was really difficult to find out about them. The main information was on a pdf of a children's library services leaflet. Anyway, one is a toy library and surestart book bus, and the other is a Baby bus! Hertfordshire has a School library service mobile that visits schools termly, as does the one in the Isle of Wight. Leicester City also has two Book Buses, one specifically for underfives, that visit the outer estates of Leicester. Their service has been running for the past 27 years and appears to be the oldest in the country. They have a pageful of information on the website which seems to show the pride and success they have in the service. This would be a good service to investigate further.

I was dissappointed with the county of Leicestershire, because although I knew that they had a school library service mobile library last year, (I applied for a job in the School library service, but didn't get it) there is no mention of it at all on their website. Presumabley it is yet another one that has bitten the dust. Lincolnshire has a school library service van and Manchester has the elegantly named Reading Voyager. Merthyr Tydfil wins the prize for being the most interseting and informative website. It does not have a specific children's mobile library, but the "normal" mobile library has one day a week devoted to visiting schools. Some insightful person has asked the child customers what they think of the service, and has posted all their comments as a justifcation of it. This again seems to merit further examination.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I think I need a finer net

Well, so far I have got up to G and only found 3 more children's mobile libraries. One is a public library, one is a school library service vehicle, and the other is shared between to two services, which seems to be a jolly good idea to me. The children's mobile libary information seems to be hidden on many local council webpages, with little mention on the headings, just a snippet at the end of a page, or by following lots of links. It takes a lot of clicks to find some of them. Are councils trying to hide the fact that they exist? or are they considered unimportant? Could this be the difference between success and failure, is a higher profile needed? These and other questions need to be answered. So the latest fishes in my catch are Edinburgh City council's "Book Bus", Gloucestershire's shared vehicle and Doncaster's school library service vehicle. I knew of the existance of the Edinburgh vehicle which made me search the website to find mention of it. It was put in Access services, without a link to the mobile library area or the children's services area. I only found it by searching the main site.

I knew about it because the head of edinburgh City Libraries came to visit the Reading Rocket when I was working on it, to get some ideas of what the Edinburgh vehicle should be like. From the description of the vehicle it seems to be the most like the reading Rocket that I have seen so far. It mentions face on display of books, which was one of our hallmarks.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Trawling the net for children's mobile libraries

My internet was down all last week, but I managed to do some searching in University to establish if anyone else is currently researching Children's mobile libraries. Guess what, no-one is doing anything close. Well, apart from someone at Leeds Met who has done something on Children's libraries. At least I have eliminated any competition.

Today I have been going through all the local authority websites to find if they run Children's Mobile Libraries. I have completed A-B! Well, that isn't strictly true, because some of the sites were borough or district councils that redirected me to the county council. So, so far I have found Public library run children's mobiles in:- Bexley, Birmingham (Words on Wheels) and Blackburn. I found School Library service mobiles in Nottingham, Suffolk (three vehicles), Essex, Northumberland (out of action due to flooding), Shropshire and Worcestershire. That's nine so far. There is a possible one that is part of a community bus in Bath, but the refererence I found for it was dated 2003, so some following up needs to be done to see if the service is still going.