Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries received a rather worrying email about a partially sighted elderly gentleman who was in tears because the mobile library has been stopped to his village. The email came from his concerned neighbour and friend. We are told that the only notice given of the halted service was a notice on the library bus on its last visit to the village. The people who did not visit the bus that day would have missed the notice. When the people who did see the notice asked the librarian what was happening to the service in the future, and what alternatives there would be available, the librarian said she did not know.
The lady emailed us about her neighbour because she received no response from Gloucestershire County Council when she asked them for information. We have asked GCC to tell us what the plans are for the mobile library service but they are yet to respond
In an attempt to establish the extent of the problem we emailed our members and asked
– has anyone else had received information about the mobile library service?
– Do you use it and has it stopped in your area?
– What information and notice were you given and were you offered an alternative?
One of the responses we received said
I’m sure you have seen http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/article/111012/Changes-to-the-mobile-library-servicewhich is all the information we have and which has not changed since October.
Our last visit was 30th October. The books were taken out/renewed until 22-1-13 but the librarian did not know what would happen. She did point out a white notice on a door which was similar to the changes notice. She also said that ‘our’ van, not long ago refurbished, was one that would be modified for the ‘new’ service. Whether we would have it call, she did not know. She did say there were more people at our stop than she had seen elsewhere! we had quite a few young children..We regularly have a non driving grandmother bring a 2yr. old who without the Mobile Library, will not be having books. Like us.)
In any event we wait to see if we are on the visiting list and what it is. Surely someone must know!
The above changes notice says current mobile customers have been contacted. One lady here who has been regular user for 45 years has not been contacted neither have I, a user for a mere 40 years. Another village has a user for 54 years according to the librarian. Are THEY asking views from the right people?
We were hoping the first email we received was because of a small oversight by GCC but it seems like the problem is widespread.
On their website , last updated on 16th October, Gloucestershire County Council say
We have contacted our current mobile customers about the changes and many have told us they will use static libraries or the new mobile stops. For people who have told us that they have more specific needs, alternative arrangements are being made which are more suited to their individual circumstances
It would seem that this is NOT the case. We have contacted the named librarian mentioned on the website for further information but have received no response. The website claims that “many people” have said they can use a static library or a new stop but how can this be the case if no one knows where or when the new stops are, particularly if they have not even been contacted in the first place?
For many rurally isolated people the mobile service is a lifeline, particularly for the elderly and very young children, and it is very unsettling to have this lifeline cut, with no indication as to whether it will return.
We are extremely worried about the situation. In November 2011, Gloucestershire County Council lost a High Court judicial review and their original library cuts plans had to be scrapped as it was ruled to be guilty of “bad government” and a “substantive breach of the law” because it failed to analyse and meet the needs of local people, particularly the vulnerable, when drawing up its library cuts plans. They really should be at pains to show they are not doing the same again.
We fear that in the drive to get the “community libraries” up and running mobile library users have been overlooked. Are Gloucestershire’s few remaining librarians so busy training volunteers for “community run libraries” that the rest of the service is being abandoned?