There is still time for residents to have their say on the Isle of Wight Council’s proposals to change the way the Island’s library service is provided.
While residents have until Monday (7 Feb) to make their views known, there have so far been eight expressions of interest received from parties wishing to take over the running of local services. These are not only in areas already served by a library building but also in two areas, both rural, not currently only served by the mobile service.
It is anticipated that at least three more expressions will also be submitted in the coming days or weeks
The council has pledged to work with these groups to assist them, as far as possible, in developing their proposals. This could involve considering delaying, possibly until the summer, the closure of council-run premises where there are serious negotiations based on a viable business case, to replace an authority-run facility with a locally-run one. Such a delay could allow volunteers to be trained and possibly an asset transfer of building or equipment to take place.
While the council is looking to reduce the number of buildings it operates, it will retain responsibility for providing and updating a stock of books. The current proposals also involve expanding online provisions and the mobile service.
After the current consultation ends, the responses will be studied and a paper taken to the Full Council budget meeting on 23 February. A final decision will be taken by the cabinet when it meets on 1 March.
George Brown, IW Council cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “It is pleasing that as well as generating a lot of responses and comments, the consultation has also brought forward some promising proposals from organisations who want to get involved in running a local library.
“I cannot pre-empt any decision that may be made by cabinet but what I can guarantee is this: the council will do all it is reasonably able in order to assist these groups in developing viable proposals.
“There is no avoiding the fact that the council, because of the wider economic situation, has to spend less on the library service. But we will do what we can to support communities in retaining and creating local libraries.”
The libraries consultation can be viewed online at: www.iwight.com/living_here/libraries/anewchap.asp
So far there have been around 400 comments/letters received at libraries or through the consultation process and a further 100 representations – many duplicating those sent in the consultation process – made to leading council figures. It is known that several petitions are in circulation.