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Gateshead Libraries – delivering books and wellbeing

The Gateshead Council library service extended their van driver service, delivering books to residents who were unexpectedly needing to shield during the coronavirus pandemic. James, in his 80s, a long-time, passionate library user and enthusiastic reader, started getting books delivered through the doorstep delivery. On one visit John (the library van driver) noticed James had a mandolin and commented on it. A conversation struck up and John explained that he was learning to play the mandolin.

John visits James regularly and offered to play some tunes with him. John persevered offering a ‘session’ (the gentleman did not remember the offer the first time) and a week or so ago they had a safe, socially distanced session.

James (left) and John (right) play the Mandolin, socially distanced outside the front door

James has greatly enjoyed the employee selections, but clearly the picture shows that he has enjoyed the opportunity to play his mandolin and have a chat with the library driver as well.

Libraries in normal operation do so much to reduce social isolation and the evidence of the well-being benefit of reading is extensive, but undoubtedly it is the small opportunistic extras that the service delivers, that can make such a difference.