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Self-service libraries stop elderly reading'

PUBLISHED: 10:19 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:55 25 August 2010

BOOK WORM: Eileen Allchin with daughter and carer Joyce Flaherty.

BOOK WORM: Eileen Allchin with daughter and carer Joyce Flaherty.

THE daughter of a 98-year-old woman is disgusted with a library s new self-help service which she claims discriminates against elderly and disabled people.

THE daughter of a 98-year-old woman is disgusted with a library's new self-help service which she claims discriminates against elderly and disabled people.

Full-time carer Joyce Flaherty, 68, of Garganey Walk, Thamesmead, travels to Central Library in Townley Road, Bexleyheath, once every three weeks with her mother to stock up on her beloved romance novels.

Her mother Eileen Allchin, a former foster-mother and child minder, is partially deaf and sighted and spends most of her day reading.

But Mrs Flaherty says the new self-help system Bexley council has imposed means her mother would not be able to use the library without her help.

The retired teacher said: "It is disgusting. If they want to use self-service go ahead but give people a chance to be served by a member of staff.

"Without me she would not be able to go to the library. It is not easy for her at the best of times.

"What I find most annoying is that we go in and there is no one at the counter. The two people are chatting behind the counter.

"It is not really saving money as they are just waiting around.

"I haven't noticed a reduction in staff but I presume it will come to that.

"Recently when I went in, a man waiting behind me threw his books down and said 'I haven't got time to wait around' because there were so many problems with the self-service.

"I think libraries are vital, especially when more people are encouraged to read."

Bexley council said promotion of self-service was not linked in any way to library staffing levels.

A spokesperson added: "The use of self-service enables staff to perform more customer-focused functions within the libraries, such as helping choose books and offering guidance on the use of the public computers.

"We were sorry to learn that a member of the public has approached you about issues she experienced.

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