Things are going well on the field work front, I have dates for visiting West Sussex (both vehicles) and the Edinburgh bookbus and I have a meeting with Leicester City libraries ( they also have two vehicles). I have also been checking the original list, and seem to have lost Bexley (where are you Bexley?) and Backburn. However, I have just discovered Medway, which is silly really, because I have know about it since the Mobile meet, I took a photo of it but somehow didn't manage to find out if it was a public library children's mobile or a school's service vehicle. I decided that with five authorities actually signed up for observation, I should make the effort to see every vehicle once, even if it is for a short time or to interview the mobile vehicle staff. I may find more. Too many would make it harder to see everyone, but it would be good news for the research.
The comments I have already had from managers of the services confirm that the study is needed. they want to know what people think about their services as well. Different authorities tend to use the service for different sets of excluded groups. Manchester for instance visits traveller sites while Edinburgh encompasses special schools and secure units. This is interesting because it demonstrates the value of using vehicles to get to people. The argument could be, however, that deposit collections could be put into these places and rotated. That would still require a delivery van, and surely it is more that books that mobile libraries deliver, it is a library service.
I have just been writing up the definition (they have forced me to do a Literature Review) of a mobile library, and I know, I have just split an infinitive. Sujin Butdisuwan of a University in Thailand defined a mobile library as:
All travelling or movable library activities in any formats such as large enclosed trucks or vans or large motor vehicles equipped with shelves and a staff enclosure to visit rural districts or remote areas where there is no other library service at specific times on a certain day or days of the week.
Shelves are mentioned, but not books!! just a mental slip there, I am sure, but the interesting thing is that it is the library service part that is accentuated.