Fears over mobile library future

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Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar SNP Group Leader, Gordon Murray, have raised concerns about the future of the mobile library service in the Western Isles.

This comes as the council appear not to be proceeding with the replacement of the existing mobile library vans, despite approving funding for this purpose in March of last year.

The mobile library vans currently serve Lewis, Harris and the Uists. Users are able to take out a wide range of books as well as other audio and visual content.

They are responsible for delivering 30% of all total loans from Western Isles libraries. Around 40% of service users describe themselves as having mobility difficulties and the majority of users are between 45 and 84 years old.

Alasdair Allan commented: “The library vans provide a vital outreach service to communities far away from the brick and mortar libraries, and individuals who are more socially isolated or who would have difficulty travelling.

“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who were concerned to hear that the council are not proceeding with the plan to replace the existing vans.

“The council itself acknowledges in a report they are clearly no longer fit for purpose and I understand this is affecting how much time they can spend in communities.

“In 2017 everyone should have some form of library access, regardless of geographical location. The people who rely on this service are some of the most vulnerable in our communities and I have written to the Comhairle to ask them to clarify its future.”

Cllr Gordon Murray commented: “The mobile library service is highly valued by our communities and this is reflected in the percentage of those who use the service.

“The Comhairle need to acknowledge this by moving swiftly to replace these vans so as not to disadvantage those with mobility issues from the service.”