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 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.