A NEW mobile library service has been launched in the county in a bid to bridge the gap between communities.

Gloucestershire County Council officially opened its newly refurbished mobile library at St James Church, in Saul, on Monday, January 28.

Now, in addition to borrowing books, customers can use a computer to access the internet and obtain information from a range of public sector partner organisations.

The new mobile stops at 56 locations in rural areas throughout the county and visits on a regular four-week cycle, with a full list of stops and timetables available on the county council’s website.

Leader of Gloucestershire County Council Cllr Mark Hawthorne, who was at the unveiling, said: "With our network of static libraries, virtual library and the mobile service, we feel that we have a comprehensive and flexible package of services for everyone in the county.

"Libraries are often seen as the front door to other council services and those of our partner agencies in Gloucestershire, and this important function should not be forgotten."

However spokesman for Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries Johanna Anderson said this was disingenuous of the council leader.

"He was determined to slash public libraries by 43 per cent and axe all of the mobile libraries," she said.

“Had he and his administration taken the time to listen to people, they might have seen the importance of our libraries more than two years ago, before leading the county into a court case that has so far cost the taxpayer £238,000, because Gloucestershire County Council failed to take into account how the closures would affect vulnerable groups."