In this weekend’s documentary, ‘Books Over Borders’, Newtalk goes on a road-trip with Europe’s first, and Ireland’s only, cross-border, cross-community mobile library.
Newstalk will be broadcasting a radio documentary about the cross-border mobile library that serves the border communities of Donegal, Derry and Tyrone this weekend with a repeat next weekend. It will then be available as podcast on the Newstalk site.
In 2004, Europe’s first cross-border mobile library took to the roads, serving rural communities in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. Funded by the EU’s Peace Programme, it was jointly conceived by Donegal Library Service and Libraries NI.
It is a prime example of co-operation between institutions who operate in different jurisdictions, working together to serve isolated border communities. A practical, all-island approach to pooling resources and providing a quality service.
However, this innovative and valued community resource that has trundled along our border roads for the past 15 years is facing a bumpy future. Brexit, and the unknown impact it will have on our borders and cross-border institutions, is creating some uncertainty and worry.
The service has become an important feature in the lives of the villages, rural housing estates and small primary schools that it stops at during its six days a week schedule. Many people have come to rely on it, not just for books but for the social element it provides.
Much of this is due to the cheerful and knowledgeable librarian, Denis Doherty, who has built strong links with his clients over the years. The mobile service also has a key role to play in promoting literacy, particularly among children who would otherwise be glued to a smartphone or tablet. The people who use the service have many reasons for doing so and would sorely miss it if it were gone.
Jim Doherty spent some time travelling with the mobile library, calling at the schools and villages and meeting the people who use it. The border itself is still invisible and will hopefully remain so. As Denis pointed out over one of many cups of tea “People are the same no matter what side of a border you’re on”.