Back in 2010, the former Conservative Isle of Wight council proposed plans to close nine of the eleven libraries on the Isle of Wight.
After public outrage and effective campaigning, the proposals were amended and a delegated decision was taken to cease funding only five of the libraries. They went on to become ‘Community Libraries’, staffed entirely by volunteers.
Following the massive cuts to local government funding by the former Conservative/LibDem coalition, it now looks as though similar plans to cease funding some libraries could be back on the table.
IWC to fund only one librarian in Ventnor
Ventnor Town Council have recently been canvassing views from their residents on services provided in the town.
The ‘Our Place’ survey explains
“Ventnor’s Library will be changed to what the Isle of Wight Council calls a Community Supported Library later this year.
When this happens the Isle of Wight will continue to fund one Librarian (23 hours per week), but only if the Town Council funds the running costs.”
This move would rely almost entirely on volunteers to carry out the skilled work of the current staff.
The Isle of Wight council were unable to give any specific details about the plans, saying that “a consultation is scheduled in the near future and that will contain details when it is published”.
In 2011, Conservative Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner said, “Volunteers should supplement rather than replace librarians“.
Following a court case and public campaigning, the then-leader of the council, David Pugh, was even called to give evidence to the Select Committee on Libraries.
Calls for an inquiry into the library closures resulted in no action.