A helpful someone has sent me comments submitted by users of Hammersmith and Fulham’s soon-to-be-disbanded home library service.
The disbanding of the home library service is part of a general Hammersmith and Fulham council assault on library services and staff – staff across libraries are being downgraded and posts cut as the council attempts to squeeze a few coins in savings out of this most popular and blameless of services.
The home library service is run from Barons court by a small, experienced team that is much valued by the elderly and disabled residents that it services. The council has told local libraries that from now on, they must run their own home library services, which of course they won’t be able to. At best, a home library visiting service will become a tacked-on extra. The staff cuts and downgradings will make it almost impossible for local libraries to spare staff to visit homes with the books, videos and CDs that home library users appreciate.
And they do appreciate those things, to say the least. The comments below make that clear.
The comments were made earlier this year when the council was ‘consulting’ (easily our era’s most meaningless word and act) local residents about its plans to dispense with the dedicated home library service. The really galling part is that the comments never saw the light of day. Word is that the forms they were on were shoved into a box that was, in its turn, shoved into a corner from which it only recently emerged. Even if the comments did end up in a report somewhere (and I haven’t seen it), they’ve been ignored. The dedicated home library service is coming to an end.
Anyway – here are some of the comments from home library service users. If nothing else (and there is nothing else), they show that locals are as passionate about their library services as Hammersmith and Fulham council is about eradicating services that don’t make a financial return:
“The Home Delivery Service, and its first rate reliable always cheerful staff. They know what to choose for each individual customer and find what is ordered.”
“As our Home service scheme is based there (Barons Court Library) I wouldn’t approve of any alternative arrangements which I feel might make working conditions for our lovely delivery people more strenuous.”
“My husband and I get through over 15 books (large) print), loads of videos, DVDs and CDs in the three-week period between visits. Without this service we would be left twiddling our fingers!”
“No trust could compare with the service at present. They have become “friends for life” rather than different individuals coming to us, if the service is farmed out to trusts or volunteers.”
“The Home Library Service is a life saver for us as we are both old and even if we were taken to a library we wouldn’t be able to carry the heavy books we enjoy so much.”
“Desperate to have the visiting library continue this service. Will sadly miss my supply of books to cover lonely days. In my case, being disabled, the books and whoever delivers them each time is important. Always such charming people, bringing a chirpy atmosphere.”
“The staff that comes to me always takes the trouble to bring books written by authors I like and also the H&F News which keeps me in touch with the outside world. Money is not the only answer to change, so do please think carefully on what you intend to do.”
“Barons Court Library and its services are wonderful, and it houses a wonderful Outreach service. The staff have worked under pressure for many years. The range of books and knowledgeable staff it’s time you rewarded their hard work and not downsized. It would be like losing my right arm.”
“The Home Library Service – my husband and I are very old and unable to get about much. The HLS has brought us books, talking books and DVDs every three weeks and the service is very much appreciated. I realise it may cost but since the number of people over 85 is increasing, the demand for such a service will also increase.”
“As I’m housebound my only way I could receive my library books is the Home Library. Without this service I would no longer enjoy the pleasure of reading.”
“I am not able to visit a library. My own service – The Home Library – is, as it always has been in mind exceptionally good and I judge the three people who run it exceptional also. To run the service on one full-time and two part-time employees is well nigh unbelievable. Not only do they bring the books but knowing one’s tastes they choose books also. I have always enjoyed their choices; they are well thought out and always interesting. These three people are so much more than ordinary library clerks and I would judge pretty well irreplaceable. The service they give me is of the highest order.”
“I totally depend on the regular service provided by the staff of the Home Library Service.”