Villagers near Grantham are furious that their mobile libraries are to be downsized to vans
Villagers have protested against the downsizing of their library buses.
The library bus which regularly visits smaller communities throughout the county will soon be replaced by a smaller van.
Lincolnshire County Council says the vans are more environmentally-friendly.
Villagers and members of Ropsley WI have protested against the downsizing of the library bus.
They say that rural services are being ‘decimated’ and ‘alienated’. They also say that the council’s argument that smaller rural roads cannot cope with the large buses is flawed as large agricultural and haulage vehicles often use these roads.
In a message to the operators of the service, Greenwich leisure Ltd, Ropsley WI said: “Given that the smaller van will hold a much reduced book and media section you also cite the ability for users to request books online and in advance of the bus’s visit. Surely you must realise that the majority of your users are elderly and are not internet users. You are immediately alienating a significant proportion of your user community.
“This is yet another degradation of support to those in our rural communities. Bus and post office facilities have already been decimated. Your mobile library, in its current format, is a lifeline for some. Rural isolation is a huge problem and we believe you as a Council-run library have a moral obligation to the community.
“Today in Ropsley there was almost a car park of buggies, walking aids and mobility scooters outside the bus. At one end of the bus stories were being read to a number of captivated younger children, at the other end plans were being made for tea and cake. The former involved a mum with post-natal depression and it had taken all her strength to get her child out the house that morning. The library was the only social contact she could face. The latter arrangements were being made by a 96 year old who hadn’t left the village in weeks. Please do not let these people, and others like them, down.”
Louise Egan, county council library and heritage client lead, added: “Although we know there are customers who prefer the traditional large mobile libraries, most lease companies, including the one used by the council, no longer supply them as they can be unreliable and are expensive to maintain.
“So with our current lease nearing its end, we’ll be replacing these vehicles with smaller vans that are cleaner, greener and far more practical for our narrow, rural lanes.
“Customers won’t ordinarily be getting onto the new vans – instead staff will bring out any books they have reserved, along with additional stock for browsing. “As for those with disabilities, we currently run a home-delivery service that brings books to their door – customers should speak to staff for further details on this. This will mean all our customers can continue to get the books they want, while also doing our bit for the planet.”
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More by this authorGraham Newton