Family Library Forced to review its viability
Direct Government financial support ceased in 2020 and, combined with COVID, affecting everyone financially, means the Family Library has not been able to find the funds required to ensure it can continue to deliver its highly acclaimed services to the community.
Therefore, it has to consider all options, upto and including the closure of all existing services which would not only affect our nearly 2,000 subscribers Island-wide, but also the jobs of the nine expert and dedicated people employed by the award winning Library.
The Family Library, which can trace its roots back over 100 years to the Rural Library, was announced as one of the cuts from Government in 2011 as a response to the VAT income loss. Since that point, the Family Library has been run as an independent charity, requiring a budget that has stayed static at £250,000 per year for the last 9 years, despite adding two new services:
direct home deliveries of books to the housebound alongside our large mobile library
and Bibliotherapy, which helps people with memory issues connect back to some of the memories that may otherwise be locked away.
“From our oldest client who is 105 years old to some of our youngest babies, our sessions in the Library on Westmoreland Road really do serve the needs of making the mind active through activities which encourage reading when young, to making sure the older minds in our community are kept fed with literary support” said a spokesperson for the Library Charity.
“We lend over 20,000 books 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.”
The Family Library charity has been blessed with a steadfast benefactor since 2012 when it first started operating independently. That benefactor currently places half of the money required with us, which has left us with £125,000 to raise each year. In recent years, this gap has been plugged by Government funding. In 2018 and 2019 this was with Tynwald backing, whilst waiting for a two year Library Select Committee review due in late 2019.
Unfortunately, this report was delayed and then got caught up in the understandable prioritisation of the COVID crisis which led to publication and debate being indefinitely delayed. The funding that went with this review period expired and was not replaced.
“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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