“Should the mobile library be cut, it will be the end of a lifetime’s education”

A great letter by mobile library user Judy Monger appeared in the local press, and is reproduced (with Judy’s permission) below:

Dear Editor,
The lady over the road from me has been a regular user of the Mobile Library for 44 years as I have been for 38 years. We wonder how many people at other stops have been going for longer and benefitting from this invaluable service?
For 80 years, I have treasured books. Should the Mobile Library be cut, it will be the end of a lifetime’s education (amazing adventures in non-fiction books) and nothing to read at meal times. The nearest Library, although only 6 miles away, would entail 3½ hours of precious time, travelling by an afternoon bus, so cannot be considered. The problems must be similar for book readers in other villages.
Over 35 years ago, our pre-school son, too, enjoyed and greatly benefitted from visiting the Mobile, fortnightly then, and he still reads books when time permits. Many young children have learnt to use libraries on the Mobile.
We are so thankful for the people who are fighting these proposed discretionary cuts as the losers will be those who live in the country, the elderly and the very young.
Judy Monger

Judy’s letter really brings home the impact Gloucestershire County Council’s plans to cut ALL the mobile libraries in our large rural county will have on kids and adults in rural areas (often with poor public transport links), the elderly and the vulnerable.

Gloucestershire County Council have just announced mobile library visit schedules up until Christmas. It is worth remembering that without the outcry from county library users and subsequent court case and injunction, these mobile libraries would have been withdrawn from service in July, with ZERO consultation with users (who were only asked what they thought of the plans after the decision was made), and ZERO alternative provision in place.

Poet Marcus Moore at a mobile library on Save Libraries Day

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4 Responses to “Should the mobile library be cut, it will be the end of a lifetime’s education”

  1. This lovely letter echoes my own experience when living in the Highlands of Scotland with two toddlers. Library van visits were anticipated with such excitement, from me as well as the twins. Now, I’m lucky enough to live down the road from Stroud library, but if I weren’t I’d certainly be using the mobile, and greatly fearing its demise.

  2. barabrith says:

    Having worked in a bookshop, and being a regular library user (and client of the mobile bank and library, too, when I lived in the West Highlands) I know that libraries and bookshops fulfil a social need that goes far beyond providing books for people. Sometimes the friendly assistant is the only human contact of the day. He or she is trained to assist with choices, help customers make the most of their visit; as well as often being the person who can make someone’s day by simply exchanging a few words. In isolated villages this role is doubly important. Rural public transport is scarce, is hardly child-friendly, and may be expensive. Getting to the town may not be a valid option for many. The library van is a vital link with the wider world. Cutting that link to save a few pounds will only increase social isolation and rural intellectual poverty.

  3. Alistair Fisher says:

    I am still puzzled by GGC as they say 11 Libarys are for closure they hope, but they havent added on the mobile libarys. this to me seems someone is fiidling it all and hoping noone will notice. Thanks to Judy and many others people are realising that the mobile libray is alifeline to so many villages and so many elderly people in homes or other wise. I really think GGC should really work out what they are doing to the people of Gloucestershire,.
    A very good letter Judy and thanks for letting us all read it
    Alistair from the |Hester’s Way Library as a peron who relies on this to help my wife as I am a carer,

  4. Midnight says:

    I have much sympathy with this letter. At the same time, I also understand that the Mobile Library is disproportionately expensive to run (maintenance + fuel). And when it used to visit my village, hardly anybody used it ‘cos we never realised it had arrived; so they gave up coming here. When GCC first revealed its changes to libraries, I submitted a carefully thought-through Proposal for Mobile Libraries, designed to maximise its effectiveness; ideas included sponsorship, partnership with mobile police community vans, eye-catching bodywork art by local artists – and an ice cream van style bell (or similar) to announce the van’s presence to customers! I suggested that other organisations and entertainment (eg live storytelling, performance poets etc) could accompany the library van.

    Like most of the public’s response to GCC’s library plans, my ideas were completely ignored. I am quite certain GCC made its decisions regardless of alleged public consultation; I attended a so-called consultation event at Cirencester library, where neither the county councillor nor the senior member of library staff could answer any question in detail. It was a pointless exercise, presumably held so they could tick the box marked ‘consultation’…

    Go and look at eg Bourton on the Water where the ‘new’ library is to be squeezed into a tiny room. Find out if library staff are to be obliged to work alone (this is NOT safe). Beware, too, the Mobile Library conveniently ‘breaking down’ while the interim schedule is supposed to be happening. I might be a blatantly middle class liberal minority, but I wouldn’t trust Gloucestershire Country Council as far as I could throw it.

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