Libraries offered lifeline on Isle of Wight

Libraries offered lifeline on Isle of Wight

The nine libraries threatened with closure on the Isle of Wight could be saved following a consulation by local civic chiefs.

The nine libraries, of the 11 on the island, had been set to close as the Conservative-run council looked to save £32m over four years. Only those in Newport and Ryde had escaped the threat.

The news comes as prime minister David Cameron emphasised the importance of digital investment and community volunteering to the survival of libraries at Prime Minister's Questions. Following questioning by Labour leader Ed Miliband on library cuts, he responded: "Because we're taking local grants back to the level they were in 2007 I see no reason at all why they should not continue with a very well-funded network of libraries."

He added "those that will succeed are the ones that wake up to the world of new technology, of the internet and everything else, and investment goes in."

Cameron concluded: "And should councils look into community solutions to [the] other libraries? I believe that they should."

The BBC reports that the libraries in Sandown, Ventnor, Freshwater and Cowes were to have their opening hours cut to one day a week and closed after a year. Under proposals, the libraries would continue to be managed by the council for three days a week, with volunteers brought in to extend opening times. Those in East Cowes, Bembridge, Shanklin, Niton and Brighstone will have their closure deadline extended from April to the end of June to give groups more time to develop proposals to take them on.

Councillor George Brown said: "The aim is to give local communities more time in which they can increase their roles in supporting libraries.

"While we do have to reduce expenditure on our library service as part of the overall need to save £25m in the coming two years, we intend to do all we reasonably can to protect libraries in all areas currently served and furthermore to help establish new provision in areas where there currently is none."

The council had argued that plans would have saved £633,000 by April 2012. It will discuss the proposals on 1st March.