Family Library’s Final Chapter?

The Family Library may be forced to close unless it can find new sources of income. 

With direct Government financial support ending and COVID affecting everyone financially, the Family Library has not been able to find the funds required to ensure it can continue to deliver its highly acclaimed and vital community services.

As a result, the Library is having to consider all options, upto and including the closure of all existing services which would not only affect its nearly 2,000 subscribers island-wide, but also the jobs of the nine expert and dedicated people employed by the multi award winning Library.

Tracing its roots back over 100 years to the Rural Library, the gov announced back in 2011 that it was cutting the funding in response to the VAT income loss, since then it has run as an independent charity at a cost of about £250,000 per year despite adding new services including direct home deliveries of books and Bibliotherapy, which helps people with memory issues connect back to some of the memories that may otherwise be locked away.

 A spokesperson said: ‘From our oldest outreach client who is 105 years old, to some of our youngest babies, our unique combination of services really do serve the needs of both young and old to be mentally active through books and activities which encourage lifelong learning and ensures that our community is kept fed with expertly curated literary support” said a spokesperson for the Library Charity.

‘When running at full pace, we issue over 55,000 books and resources (audio books, DVDs etc) a year, many to the more vulnerable in society through our outreach services. So, we have always seen the services as vital, which was why they were not allowed to fail back in 2011 and we formed the charity to support it.’

Since its funding was cut, the library has benefited from funding of £125,000 per year from local benefactors, who last year also paid its full costs to prevent closure. A review by the Library Select Committee of Tynwald has failed to deliver the needed support from gov and as such the library is once again looking at closure.

The spokesperson added: ‘Our priority has always been our clients. All of our staff worked through the lockdowns, supporting our communities with activities online and even calling up our housebound clients on the day they would normally have had a delivery so we maintained continuity, which can be so important to people in these situations. We also pushed out nearly two months’ worth of books in a week just before the first lockdown to ensure that people had a stock to keep them going. We feel a burden of responsibility in the services that we provide and the people to which we provide them. Hence the review to find a way to service the people who need it, even if we are not able to do it anymore.’

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