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Mobile library services across the county are being withdrawn

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: May 10, 2011

LETTER: Adele O'Connor, Wendy and Oliver Bookham, Lucy Houldey and Jon Burcher.

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ALL mobile library services across the county are being withdrawn.

And villagers in Blackwells End, Hartpury, are frustrated that their once-fortnightly service, run by Gloucestershire County Council, will end in July. But they are also enraged by a letter from council leader Mark Hawthorne saying it would be cheaper for the council to buy books from Amazon and give them to Hartpury residents, than continue to run the mobile library service.

Adele O'Connor, of Windmill Cottage, said: "His letter is condescending, and basically says if you want books buy them. We've all been extremely upset about it."

Adele wrote a letter to express her grievance that the monthly service would be axed. The nearest library to the village is Newent Library and she's been forced to use Tewkesbury to return books.

She said of the 32 people who live by the stop, 12 residents regularly take out books.

Neighbour Lucy Houldey cares for Jon Burcher, 39, who has Down's syndrome. She said the letter was "ridiculous".

A former English teacher, Lucy takes out 10 books every time the library visits, including early-learning books for Jon, who has a reading age of five. She said: "There are a lot of people like John. It is incredibly important."

The letter says that a low number of users and high cost means it is not "possible or sensible" to continue to run the service.

It reads: "We will be announcing, for most people, a new virtual library service. That will let everyone in the county borrow books from the comfort of their own home, and have them delivered to a library near them for collection, perhaps whilst on a shopping trip."

The letter states that those who choose to use the service will be able to have their books delivered to their home for a fee, while older and vulnerable people will get a free home delivery service.

Mr Hawthorne said: "We are taking measures to ensure that older and vulnerable people without internet access can still use the new virtual library service. That might be through a friendly neighbour, village agents, or paper-based catalogues."

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    furthermore, glos  |  May 10 2011, 10:20PM

    He claims the service is too expensive but the tens of thousands of pounds of our money that Hawthorne is prepared to send defending his ridiculous plans in court could fund this service for years. http://foclibrary.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/mark-hawthorne-claims-he-has-been-forced-into-a-costly-legal-process/

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    More guff, Glos  |  May 10 2011, 10:00PM

    Hawthorne again does not know what he is talking about. There is no alternative for the mobile libraries yet and they have not consulted with users to see what they require. The sooner he admits his mistakes and resigns the better - preferably before irreversible damage is done. Posting big heavy books will be more expensive and it penalises those in rural areas who are cut off from static services. To remove every single mobile library from a rural county the size of Glos is crazy, unprecedented and will end up costing more.

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    Parkie, Gloucestershire  |  May 10 2011, 12:40PM

    Is this Mark Hawthorne fit for purpose? If he did write such a response he needs to be taken to task over it by his own Tory party. This just proves that he truly believes that libraries are completely non essential and that he is vindictive towards all they offer. I feel truly sorry for all library staff and customers because this man will be the death of all Gloucestershire libraries if he is allowed to continue.