Cowes Heritage calls on the Isle of Wight Council to think again over its planned drastic reduction in service at Cowes Library, and closure of the local Tourist Information Centre.
Members of the management committee unanimously voted to condemn the proposal to open the library for just one day a week and close it altogether after a year. “This is nothing short of cultural vandalism,” said chairman John Groves. Members were also astonished that the council should even consider the closure of a TIC in a town so reliant on visitors.
“Not only is the library appreciated by many people of all ages, but it also holds the library service’s maritime collection of over 4,000 books, many donated by people over the years.”
He recalled that Cowes Heritage spearheaded an appeal to pay for a balustrade to be raised in height so that the maritime collection on the first floor, blocked off because of Health and Safety regulations, could again be accessed.
“We did this because our voluntary organisation regarded the entire library and its dedicated paid staff to be a vital part of the hard won public facilities of Cowes and surrounding area. It is difficult to see how such a professional service can be maintained by a team of volunteers; anyone involved in voluntary organisations knows only too well how hard it is to recruit members. Without the council maintaining its present financial support for the library we fear it is being condemned to a slow death.
“It is worth remembering that it first occupied its Beckford Road premises in 1941. So even in the height of the World War 2, when people endured a lot more privation than now, it was still considered important the town should have a proper library.”
John Groves said anyone visiting the TIC on Fountain Quay would soon see just how appreciated it is by people coming off the Red Funnel catamarans or yachts in the harbour. “They want information on what Cowes and the Island has to offer, including the wonderful heritage sites. To deny them access to this one-stop shop and its well-informed staff, at an important entrance port to a tourist island, appears extraordinarily short-sighted.”