Crime is particularly popular in Ballasalla, while people in Port Erin will have a go at anything!
This intimate knowledge of the reading tastes of people in the south derives from the fantastic service offered by the Mobile Family Library, that wends its way in the green, orange and white bus along the highways and byways of the south every other Tuesday and Thursday.
They know they operate a great service, their knowledge of people’s taste of reading material makes it almost bespoke, and they want to reach as many people as they can.
‘We still think there are more people out there who can use it,’ said librarian in charge, Sandra Henderson. ‘This is for people that cannot get to the library.’
She said the library caters for all sectors of society – from young to old – who, for various reasons find it easier if the books come to them. The problem is spreading word of the service, when many potential users are isolated. ‘How do you get to those people if they do not attend meetings where other members go? You will not know how to find them,’ said Sandra.
The mobile library is liaising with groups to identify potential users and it gets referrals from Port Erin and Castletown libraries. The bus carries 2,700 books and audio books chosen from a stock of more than 39,000 items and CDs; the latest titles replace the oldest on the shelves so the stock is as current as possible. However, older titles can be accessed if requested. There are areas catering for hobbies such as gardening, cooking and war interest.
Through expressing interest in certain conflicts, because they were there, the library has put war veterans in touch with schools, who have subsequently talked about their experience to pupils.
Because library staff get to know their readers’ tastes, they will recommend new authors and they get positive feedback from library users.
‘Loads of people say it is invaluable to me,’ said Sandra. ‘It gives them contact with the outside world, it’s not just the books, it’s the social aspect, we are like a big family, you get to know them ... You meet other people in the same situation as them, we have put people together with the same interest, they arrange to go out together if one can drive and the other can’t, it’s that sort of thing.’
The service was threatened with closure last year, because of funding cuts, but rescued when PokerStars agreed to fund it for three years. Sandra said: ‘They talk about money [the cost of running the service], but you cannot quantify the value in money terms.’
Annual subscription is £15 for adults and £2 for children. For more information, phone 640650, email firstname.lastname@example.org. See the full timetable at http://www.familylibrary.co.uk/Routes.html or request a print out by phone/email.