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North-west primary children write to Highland libraries head over ‘missing’ mobile library van

By Niall Harkiss

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Children at Tongue Primary are fed up waiting for the return of its mobile library and have written to Highland Council seeking answers.
Children at Tongue Primary are fed up waiting for the return of its mobile library and have written to Highland Council seeking answers.

Disgruntled pupils at a north-west Sutherland primary school have written to the head of library services at High Life Highland in the hope of solving the mystery of its “missing” library van.

Children attending Tongue Primary have been used to visits from its High Life Highland mobile library for a number of years.


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The Far North mobile library, which covers the north coast from Kinlochbervie to John O’ Groats, is advertised as running a three-week timetable for the area, which includes Tongue in week three of its schedule.

But after stopping for its usual festive break, the service has not returned to the school, leaving pupils without a visit since Christmas.

A smaller leased vehicle containing a small amount of books has been passing through the village in its place.

Kids in primary classes 1-4 are now seeking answers, and have written to the head of High Life Highland libraries to ask when their mobile library will make a return.

Dee Roberts, principal teacher at Tongue Primary School said: “Our primary 1-4 classes in Tongue have been very upset by the lack of library van.

“It has been missing since before Christmas and no one seems to know why it is still away or when/if it will be back.

“I believe it went into the garage for some reason and just never returned.

“There has been a small hire van coming round with a few boxes of books in it, but the children have to stand outside, often in the rain, and you can’t see the books properly and it is a very small selection of books.

“We posted the letters to the head of library services and will hopefully get a response soon.”

High Life Highland has been contacted for comment.

The appeal comes as fears continue to grow that rural communities could lose access to their mobile libraries in the near future.

In December, High Life Highland warned of "significant financial challenges" when asked about the state of its ageing fleet of mobile libraries.

The organisation said that six out of its seven current mobile libraries "need replacement" and that it was working with Highland Council "to better understand how such services can be delivered" to "help to inform future fleet requirements".

ALSO READ: 'Significant cost challenges' spark fears over future of ageing Highland mobile library fleet

A spokesperson for the organisation at the time said they would continue to look at alternative measures while vehicles were out of action, stating: “As an interim measure, High Life Highland is providing an alternative service for rural customers at times when vehicles are off the road.

“While this service is not a replacement for a full Mobile Library service - which includes regular visits to communities and schools - it may ease some of the difficulties for the most vulnerable and isolated service users.”

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