Let the library come to you

By Barrie Hudson - 6 August 2020

CommunityArts and Culture

A team of Old Town Library volunteers is taking books to readers vulnerable to covid-19.

  • From left: Volunteers Phil Baylay and Jane Caudwell with librarian Deborah Lamb

    From left: Volunteers Phil Baylay and Jane Caudwell with librarian Deborah Lamb

The volunteers also collect books being returned, which are then quarantined in special containers for four days - a day longer than officially recommended - before being put back into circulation.

The library welcomes enquiries from anybody who feels they need the service.

Librarian Deborah Lamb said: "We started the home delivery service when we reopened on 22 July.

"It's a service run by volunteers for people aged 70-plus and for those who may be shielding or medically vulnerable.

"We've got a really amazing team of volunteers who will bring books to you and collect books from your doorstep. Customers can give me a ring and either tell me exactly what they want or give me a rough idea of what they like, such as thrillers or romances. 

"Like a personal shopper, we can put together a bundle of books for them."

Many vulnerable customers have no internet access, so cannot order online. They rely on the library to choose books for them.

Current favourites among members of the library, which is run by South Swindon Parish Council, include the latest releases from Joanna Trollope Run by South Swindon Parish Council.

Current hits include books published during lockdown, such as the new Joanna Trollope and Ann Cleeves. Among the various genres on offer, thrillers are especially popular.

Deborah said: "I have had people ringing me up and saying to me they are desperate to read a book - they've re-read books so many times, over and over, because they have nothing else to read.

"They can't get out and they've just been so unbelievably grateful. It's been lovely for the volunteers because they've been getting such a wonderful reception when they drop the books off and collect them.

"We could do so many more deliveries - it's getting the word out to that demographic who aren't on the internet."

Deborah added a message to the public: "Please tell your neighbours, your friends and anybody you think might need our help. Nobody should be without books."

The four volunteers include husband and wife Phil Baylay and Jane Caudwell.

Phil said: "I have been volunteering in this library since last July, one day a week, helping Deborah out with her Story Time and Rhyme Time and also helping out with a quiz for the senior citizens.

"Obviously, since lockdown it's been shut, so it's great to be able to see it open again to some degree.

"Deborah got in touch and said, 'Would you mind helping out and delivering books to come of our senior citizens?'"

Jane usually does a great deal of voluntary work, but demand stopped because of the pandemic.

She said of the home delivery clients: "People have been thrilled to bits - really thrilled to bits, really grateful. Partly grateful to see somebody, because none of the people we have delivered to so far have been out at all.

"They have also been grateful to get rid of books because they were worried about fines, even though there aren't any. They didn't know that."

The service can be accessed by calling 07786 027185 or emailing oldtownlibrary@southswindon-pc.gov.uk

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