When is a library not a library…?

When it’s a mobile library…. At least according to Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne, and Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Antonia Noble.

A Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries supporter submitted a complaint to the County Council’s standards committee regarding Councillors Noble and Hawthorne’s repeated assertion in the press, at Council, and in public meetings that ‘no library needs to close’.

As we probably all know by now, under the Council’s plans the five mobile libraries currently operating in the county will close, as they will be withdrawn from service. The complaint stated that by saying no libraries would be closing, the Councillors were providing misleading information, by ignoring the withdrawal of the mobile service.

Unfortunately the complaints committee ruled in the Councillors’ favour, as apparently;

‘there was some confusion over the meaning of the word ‘libraries’…. there appears to have been some confusion between buildings and services which has led to differing interetations’

Well we all get confused from time to time, but given that this ‘confusion’ has been pointed out to the Councillors concerned since the plans were announced, and been raised repeatedly in the public arena throughout this campaign, this ‘explanation’ seems rather hard to swallow.

For many people in our county, the mobile library is their library. Gloucestershire’s mobile libraries call at rural villages and towns where they are used by children, elderly and disabled people, and people without their own transport who may find it difficult to visit a library any other way, while the ‘Homelink’ mobile service calls in on people in residential care homes. The loss of this service is just as important to these library users as the loss of a service in a static building.

Now that the Council’s own standards committee have pointed out this ‘confusion’, we hope Councillors Noble and Hawthorne won’t make the same mistake again. Libraries are being closed in Gloucestershire.

Poet Marcus Moore at a mobile library as part of the Save Libraries Day Flying Authors tour

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