The first of Kent’s new mobile library vehicles have hit the county’s roads, bringing a range of books to residents eager to nourish their love of reading during lockdown and beyond.
KCC’s Libraries, Registration and Archives service has invested in five new vehicles to cover all the routes across Kent – including the surrounding areas of Ashford, Dover, Maidstone, Northfleet and Sturry. The vehicles carry a great range of books and crucially offer greater reliability, reduced maintenance costs, and are more economical to drive than the older vehicles.
Wheelchair access is available thanks to the access steps being part of the wheelchair lift and, teamed with the rear air suspension, the entry and exit is kept comfortable for all customers.
The most recent figures available, for 2019-20, record that KCC’s mobile libraries assisted more than 28,000 visitors and issued nearly 80,000 items.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “I am delighted that the first of our new mobile libraries is being enjoyed by our customers. There was a real need to replace the older vehicles so that we can maintain the excellent customer service residents expect from Kent Libraries.”
“We know from customer feedback that the mobile service has been a real lifeline to many residents during lockdown, and I am pleased that our new vehicles will be reliable, comfortable and improve customer experience.”
Mr Hill said close attention had been paid to the need to provide mobile libraries that were as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Their “green” specifications include:
- a lighter chassis than the current libraries with better aerodynamics, producing lower emissions and improved fuel economy.
- an auto gearbox that analyses the load in the vehicle and the road conditions to put the vehicle in the correct gear, making multiple decisions instantly to get the smoothest, most comfortable and most fuel-efficient drive, maximising the running costs of the vehicle.
- a smart pack that provides a monthly report showing data on fuel consumption and driver behaviour, journey profiles, and tips to improve driving style for fuel consumption and vehicle optimisation; and
- roof-mounted solar panels providing a clean green method of running the internal features of the library. If required, the vehicles can be plugged in overnight to give whatever charge may be required, and this will auto shut off when the batteries reach 100%, thus reducing the need to pull power from the national grid.
For more information on Kent Libraries and the mobile service, visit www.kent.gov.uk/libs