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Library service means housebound readers never lost for words

Around 150 people who rely on Swansea's library service to keep them cwtched-up with a good book, have not been lost for words during the pandemic.

Library Deliveries

Despite the crisis the council's dedicated library team have been able to re-start deliveries for those who've taken advantage of its Housebound Library Service.

The service has been running for a number of years and is looked after day-to-day by Catherine James and David Pearson, two members of the council's library team.

Three days a week they are on the road delivering books chosen by members of the service and the other two days are spent looking after and sorting material for the next round of deliveries.

Catherine says that at the beginning of the crisis the service had to close temporarily but it's been back since the middle of May with everyone involved strictly observing social distancing arrangements. Even the books go into quarantine for 72 hours upon return before they're handled again.

She said: "It was a pleasure for us both to contact our customers to tell them the good news that we were able to resume the delivery service. The reaction that we received from each individual was overwhelming, they were so delighted to hear we were going to call with new reading material as they are so reliant on our service and had greatly missed receiving new books.

"Our customers are primarily made up of elderly individuals who may have disabilities such as sight loss and many of whom are totally housebound and rely on the service as a life line to the outside world."

"We don't just deliver books we also supply recycling bags when asked and also provide advice and information when required.

"During normal times when we call to them we can be asked to help with tasks that they cannot attend to themselves. This could be anything from taking the refuse out, tuning in a television, setting up iPads/tablets and sometimes helping them understand letters they have received.

"On one very rare occasion we were even asked to help someone fit their false teeth.

"We have some real characters that we visit and they really look forward to us interacting with them. One lady who is in her late 90's always asks for 'spicier books,' so as instructed we supply them to her."

David said that since re-starting the service they've managed to deliver to all of their customers apart from a few who are self-isolating.

"On average we deliver to customers three days out of our working week, the rest of the week consists of selecting items for each individual customer. These can include large print and ordinary print books and also a lot of our customers who are partially sighted or registered blind request to have audio books instead.

"We have approximately 150 customers on our Housebound register and the age range is between 35 and 99 years of age."

He said: "As we choose the reading material for everyone we take a profile of what interests they have and what genre of book they are interested in. We then choose relevant, suitable titles for each individuals taste. We checkout everything onto their library cards and deliver a set number of items every six weeks.

"During normal times the service also delivers to 45 care homes and sheltered accommodation establishments. But due to Coronavirus we've had to suspend deliveries to them. Hopefully we'll be able to get back to our usual service before too long."

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: "Well done to David and Catherine for their work supporting housebound people at this challenging time. It's clear that, especially these days, it's making a real difference.

"Despite the lockdown and the need to close our libraries, the library service is still here for the people of Swansea because there's lots of ways to access these services online.

"I also want to reassure our regular customers that they won't be facing fines for books that are past their return date. For now we are automatically renewing them."

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