ISUZU MOBILE LIBRARIES TURNING HEADS AND PAGES
For Victorian regional communities, the humble mobile library has been a treasured asset for generations.
Delivering the service is a big responsibility, but with a powerful new Isuzu FVD 1000, the Bellarine Surf Coast Shire’s 60,000 residents will have a reliable mobile library for years to come.
“We provide a crucial service,” said Community Libraries Manager at Geelong Regional Library, Russell Woodford.
“A lot of towns along the Surf Coast have really poor internet. Homeowners in those places aren’t getting much more than dial-up speeds and poor reception on mobile phone networks.
“For people with fewer resources, we provide much needed access to services, with the added benefit of our staff’s expert help.”
Mobile libraries have been a staple of Australian rural communities for generations, though the service has undergone seismic changes over the past decade.
The job now calls for a powerful, dependable truck that can tackle the harshest conditions with the clever, modern and high level technological capability needed to navigate this increasingly online space.
Mr Woodford said Isuzu’s renowned flexibility suited the mobile library’s unique modification needs.
“We’ve loaded the truck with computers, printers and scanners and it’s coped magnificently,” he said.
“The Isuzu’s reliability has given us all peace of mind.
“It was chosen through the Greater City of Geelong Council, through a tender process carried out for all the trucks.
“When the council chooses a new truck, brand reliability is very important.”
“There are very, very prescriptive criteria for all of the council’s tenders, to give a fair method for comparing one against the other.
The FVD Series packs the kind of serious punch needed to transport an entire library on a deadline through its six-cylinder Isuzu 6HK1 engine, producing 221 kW of power at 2,400 rpm and 981 Nm of torque at 1,450 rpm.
A box of books is heavy, let alone a bookcase. But with a library capacity of 5,000 books, in addition to all the other resources on board, the FVD Series’16,500 kg GVM is crucial.
Of course it also has to offer safe and easy transportation for the librarians, a task the FVD is more than equal to, with an Allison six-speed automatic transmission, Anti-lock Braking (ABS) and ECE-R29 compliant Front Underun Protection Device fitted as standard.
These all make the 45,000 km the library travels along the Bellarine and Surf Coast each year as comfortable experience as possible for the drivers.
“The schedule can be pretty tough for our drivers, we chose the auto transmission to make it easier on them. We only have one full-time and one-part time driver for the service.” Mr Woodford said.
“They’re at the depot by 7:30 am to process the books and DVDs, then off to the important job of providing our regional communities with things to read, internet access or classes on the latest technology.
“Some stay in a town overnight, others go in and out. For a full day they’ll have a morning and lunch stop in a different town – it could be Lorne in the morning and Airey’s Inlet for the afternoon.
“We used to have a semi-trailer, so now we’ve got a truck with a rigid body it’s much easier to manoeuvre. We have a powered bollard to supply electricity to the truck in parking spaces for every town, so the driver just has to pull up and plug in.”
There’s a lot of pressure on the drivers and librarians, but cruising the Great Ocean Road’s beautiful surf coastline provides an effective tonic.
The Hendrickson airbag rear suspension and front stabiliser bar ensures a smooth ride and delivers the library in top working condition with all the books in order.
As for the driver, the ergonomic cab provides comfort and safety with ECE-R29 compliance, driver and passenger airbags, cruise control and the Isri 6860 air suspension driver’s seat with pneumatic lumbar support.
The Geelong mobile library has been a beloved fixture of the Surf Coast Shire for over 30 years, and the Council is planning ahead for the next 30. To remain a source of community pride, planning is key.
“A lot of our customer base doesn’t have a computer or internet access at home, so we’re providing a service that is very much required in the digital age because of all the services that have moved completely online.” Russell said.
With their previous mobile library providing 25 years of service, the Shire has carefully chosen Isuzu with similar expectations. The credentials of the FVD 1000 should see it play a key role well into the future.
“The feedback from all our drivers is that they’re the easiest trucks they’ve driven. There hasn’t been a single issue – they just run along nicely.
Special thanks to Geelong Regional Library Service for this story
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