Anger at Manx mobile library cuts

Elderly residents voice concerns over mobile library closure on the Isle of Man

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Elderly residents on the Isle of Man fear the proposed closure of a mobile library service.

The mobile library delivers books to the most remote island communities, including more than 70 people who cannot leave their homes.

Nancy Payne, 97, is deaf and said the service is a lifeline. "I don't watch the television and I can't listen to music, so without books I would have nothing."

The Isle of Man government needs to make savings of £35m in the next financial year.

In February's Manx budget, the government announced that along with the family library in Douglas, the mobile service would close in September 2012.

Sandra Henderson has been the head librarian for 12 years and said the end of the service would have a "dramatic impact on people's lives".

"This service brings joy into people's lives. We are always greeted with a smile when we arrive at the door.

'Fantastic stories'

"It is so satisfying to be able to provide people with books. We get to know about them and their lives. I've heard so many fantastic stories.

"It would be such a tragedy if it had to close."

The campaign to save the libraries has also received support from award-winning British author Alan Bennett and has seen more than 2,000 people sign a petition.

Ms Payne continued: "It was such a shock when I heard they were talking about closing.

Sandra Henderson The library carries more than 1,000 titles at any one time

"They are very good and they bring me books that they know I will like. So I am very lucky. The library is a lifeline to people like me.

"If they take my books away I don't know what I would do. I used to like sewing and knitting but I have arthritis now in my hands and it is too painful.

"There is nothing else I could do except read the paper and look at the birds," she said.

Together with the family library in Douglas, the two services cost the government £237,000 a year to run but the government said that "savings have to me made."

On Friday Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK announced the formation of a Council of Ministers working party to support the Department of Education and Children in progressing alternative options for maintaining the service.

The Chief Minister said that a "range of options are being actively pursued so that services can continue to be provided."

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