Books dumped from axed Mull library service adds ‘insult’

Island historian says books left to rot in mobile van. Picture: Ginny\Wikimedia
Island historian says books left to rot in mobile van. Picture: Ginny\Wikimedia
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A Scottish council has come under fire for dumping books it left to rot in a mobile library van after axing the service more than a year ago.

Argyll and Bute Council withdrew Mull’s mobile library service last year.

The van was left, with books stored in the vehicle, at the council yard in Tobermory.

Now island historian Olive Brown has lambasted the council after discovering some stock had deteriorated so much from being left to rot in the van the council had dumped it.

Mrs Brown, a long-standing volunteer with Mull Museum, said: “I just feel that when the van was taken off the road something should have been done with the books immediately. They should not have been left in the van until they were beyond saving.

“They could have done a whole lot of things with the books, but they did nothing.”

Mrs Brown said rumours were circulating that hundreds of books had been destroyed. She said that whatever their condition, the books should have been offered to the public first.

“The council was lazy,” she said. “It had an opportunity for good publicity to blot out the bad feeling about the mobile library van coming off the road. We might have bought some for Mull Museum library and other people might have bought them.

“Second-hand book shops have an expression ‘useful reading copy’. It’s if you want a book for information, not as a thing of beauty. If you want a book enough, you will take it whatever its condition.”

Argyll and Bute Council admitted that some library stock had been dumped. A spokesman said: “When Mull mobile library was withdrawn from service in June last year, the majority of stock was relocated to the new library in Tobermory. However, a small number of books had become damaged from mould and water due to being stored in the mobile library.

“Unfortunately these books had to be disposed of. The council usually gives all its unwanted stock to a national charity, but these books were in such a poor condition that the charity would not have been able to accept them.”

Argyll MSP Michael Russell said: “Inevitably some books would have been unsalable or too damaged to pass on, but given that the community on Mull was and is very opposed to library cuts, any suggestion that usable books were being dumped simply adds insult to injury.”