“UPROAR” among Poole mobile library users has been predicted if Borough of Poole axes the valuable service.
The council is to consult on withdrawing the book van, which visits elderly people in sheltered housing as well as residents in outlying parts of the borough.
“The mobile library is sacrosanct,” said Dennis Blackler, chairman of Age Concern Poole.
“This is deprivation for the elderly and the people who can’t get out. There will be uproar.”
Currently 161 readers who are unable to visit a library borrow books from the van at sheltered housing and residential homes and 136 residents who live far from a library.
Borough of Poole’s communities overview and scrutiny committee has agreed to consult residents on replacement services, which would be run by volunteers and supported by the library service.
These could include pop-up libraries in community buildings, pubs, or churches run by volunteers in areas such as Talbot Heath, Wallisdown, Bearwood and Merley, which the mobile van visits now.
An alternative service for 34 residential homes and day centres could mean visits from Royal Voluntary Service people asking residents what they would like to read and delivering books – instead of them being able to browse the shelves themselves.
Maidment Court in Parkstone Road is visited monthly by the mobile library service and is very popular among its 45 residents.
“Our residents really use it,” said manager Karen Stephens.
“They would be lost without it. A lot of our residents can’t get out.”
Cllr Jane Pratt, chairman of the communities overview and scrutiny committee said: “We believe the alternative services we plan to offer will improve the service reach of public libraries to local communities in Poole.
“Particular care will be taken to ensure that the consultation thoroughly considers our more vulnerable customers and those living in sheltered housing schemes and residential homes.”
Book van in numbers
THE mobile library has an annual budget of £45,274 however its vehicle is due for replacement shortly at a cost of £100,000. The service employs 4.4 professional staff and 41.4 full time equivalent staff and if changes go through there could be one job at risk.
The Home Library Service run by Poole Libraries in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service delivers to an additional 21 residential homes and sheltered housing. In 2013/14 issues through the mobile service totalled 12,878.