This research paper explores alternatives to the mobile library service in providing a public library service to rural communities in England and the impacts of best value, public library standards and social inclusion policy on provision. A questionnaire survey was completed by librarians in public library authorities in England with rural hinterlands. The data derived were supplemented by follow‐up case studies. It was found that achieving social inclusion objectives and the results of best value reviews were the greatest motivating factors for much of the development of alternative library service delivery in rural areas, and that village halls were the most popular place for co‐location of library services. ICT was felt to have impacted positively on rural library service delivery and its use was demonstrated in co‐location facilities and learning centres. However, some authorities fail to consult users and non‐users in rural locations. This paper provides public library practitioners and researchers with a picture of public library service provision to rural area communities and shows the impact of Government‐driven policy. It appears that there is varying appreciation by public library authorities of rural communities’ distinct nature.
New Library World – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 2004
Keywords: Rural areas; Communities; Mobile libraries; Public libraries; National standards; Social inclusion
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