Tales of woe over mobile library ‘bias’

Central Beds Council
Central Beds Council

A mum has hit out at Central Beds’ library bus service, which she says is excluding large parts of the community.

Sally Smalley of Upper Caldecote this week tried to visit the service, which visits the village every three weeks, but was turned away.

Under Central Beds’ policy, the service can only deliver books to those who are unable to reach a library and have no one to collect books for them, such as the elderly and housebound.

But Sally believes the policy is ‘prejudice and short sighted’.

She said: “I imagine financial cost has been the reason for the change, but this makes no sense, as the bus still drives to the village, it is staffed (by people who said they would love to see it used for all the community), it is here every three weeks.

“My biggest concern is young mothers. I valued the use of my local village library bus immensely. With two small boys, it was great to be able to have access to many books for them. I remember how incredibly stressful it was to take them to town to visit the library, usually loaded up with bags of books and a push chair. Having to manage the boys and find parking was a massive deterrent to visiting the town library. Many young mums I know do not have access to a car, which makes the bus journey even more unappealing and stressful.”

She added that she was also concerned for home educators, like her, who may not have access to a car or a school library – even though their tax money goes towards paying for school books.

She said: “I am very upset. This decision is prejudice and short sighted by turning away a big part of the community, the young parents with small children, just because they are physically capable. Young parents should not have to jump through bureaucratic hoops or similar to use a library bus service, which is already on their street.”

A council spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear of Ms Smalley’s concerns and will be writing to her to explain more about our housebound library service. It only visits certain areas to drop off books, and as such, is not a walk-on, mobile library service.

“We are proud to be investing in our libraries and putting on events to encourage people of all ages to visit – including a packed programme of half-term events across the region.”