I met Mike at Clayton Brook Library for my third day on the Mobile Libraries.
I was surprised when Mike said we were setting off to Preston City Centre. When I had thought about the locations that the libraries would visit I had not imagined we would head to the city, but Mike specifically chose this route because it would offer a different perspective, and I am so glad he did.
It is well known that isolation isn’t restricted to people living in geographically remote locations, but sometimes I have to experience things for them to really make sense to me. I met someone who lives on a street full of people, for whom the closing of the local newsagents means the severing of one of her remaining links to her local community. Simply going to buy the paper each day was part of her maintaining independence, she was a visible part of the neighbourhood and her presence contributed to the richness and diversity of her street. I am sure she has support to help her to stay in her own home, but independence is about so much more than being able to live alone. The nearest place to buy a paper now is at the local big supermarket, where she would need transport and support just to buy a paper. She is an absolutely lovely woman, vibrant, intelligent and kind. Just crossing the threshold of her home is a physical challenge for her and without the newsagents she has fewer reasons to make that effort.
The Mobile Library is now even more important in her life. Mike’s visit every three weeks is a vital link to the outside world. She is able to make choices, give feedback and share a passion for stories with someone who appreciates her and her ideas.
One of the themes of this day was people’s passions. I chatted with borrowers about music and art, dancing and cooking, football and gardening. I met people with whom I felt a real connection, people who were open and enthusiastic about their passions and their lives. I love that each librarian’s personality sets the tone for the relationships and conversations on the van. The final result is the same, but each of them reaches there in a slightly different way. Mike is a very warm and open person and that was evident in how people responded to him and the kinds of conversations that took place whilst people were choosing their books.
On our final stop a new borrower registered. His mum had picked him up after his first full week of school and he came on, chose some books AND got a fantastic highlighter pen. I hope this will be a regular Friday visit for them. What a way to start the weekend.
I was able to do more drawing, challenging myself to try some observational drawing in public. Mike used the piece I had done for Rossendale as a way of introducing me and my work and that was really effective. I will make sure I do it on my next outing.
Regarding Bus Bladder – Apparently you can be doing this job for ten years and still not achieve it (although there is an undeniable relationship between liquid in and liquid out).