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Family Library achieves record membership 25 May 2007

THE Department of Education’s Family Library has achieved its highest membership ever.

The library, based at Noble’s Hall in Westmoreland Road, Douglas, saw 673 new members sign up in 2006-07, taking the total membership to 1,116.

The annual report on the library services from the Youth and Community Division of the Department of Education shows some 60,404 books were issued during the year. Of the new readers, 530 are children.

The Family Library, which is open from Tuesday to Saturday, has a large collection that includes fiction for readers of all ages and abilities, a non-fiction section covering project and hobby topics, audio books, music CDs covering classical, jazz, blues, world music and soundtracks and a collection of DVDs, including foreign language films.

It has a young adult section for older members and a young adult area with a study table. It offers free internet access and has books for loan to teachers and nursery nurses for use in the classroom. School classes frequently visit to learn about how libraries function and the children enjoy varied activities tailored to their ages.

Mike Clague, the Department’s Youth and Community Adviser, said:

‘The Island is really lucky to have such a great facility dedicated to children. Phased refurbishment of the library in Noble’s Hall was completed over four years and we are now seeing the benefits It is definitely not a place where children are told to be quiet. There is always music playing and we have even had Bollywood dancing.‘I am really pleased that in the world of computers, children and their families still love to read books.'

The Family Library’s Summer Reading Scheme will have a local theme this year. It will be launched after the TT, when details will be sent out to schools and members.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s Mobile Library, which is also based at Noble’s Hall, has a membership of 519, issued 57,537 books in 2006-07 and signed up 78 new members. The figures do not include the number of times a book is issued within residential homes, St Bridget’s Hospice and the Isle of Man Prison, all of which the library serves with longer-term loans, the prison taking 250 books every three months to supplement its own stock.

This part of the service supports one of the Department’s main aims, which is to provide lifelong learning for all members of the community. Every two weeks, the Mobile Library covers 10 routes, with 93 stopping points. It is operated by two full-time staff, the chartered librarian in charge and the driver/assistant, and two part-time staff, one of whom operates a housebound service from a smaller vehicle for 34 members in Douglas and Ramsey.

Mr Clague said:

‘We have completely updated our membership files this year to give more accurate statistics. With our new computerised system we also have more accurate stock figures and are able to provide an improved service in locating books and audio materials within our stock of 22,000 fiction and 8,500 non-fiction items, only 3,000 of which are carried on the vehicle.’

The Mobile Library has just completed a survey of its customers and received an unprecedented 43 per cent return, the overwhelming opinion being that it offers an excellent service, the staff being knowledgeable, cheerful and caring.

Few changes were requested apart from a coffee machine and cushions to sit on while reading. Members said the library was ‘a lifeline to out-of-town locations.’

Another added:

‘I nearly didn’t fill in the questionnaire because, quite honestly, I haven’t one complaint. The personal service is exceptional and a blessing.’

The Mobile Library is off the road while it is being repainted and refurbished. A computerised issuing system is being installed. Said Mr Clague:

‘On its return, both the Mobile Library and its staff will continue to offer and improve upon this much appreciated service.’

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