It was a pleasure to be present at the Watermark in Ivybridge on Saturday to support the tenth anniversary celebrations of that building which has become the beating heart of that community.
I was interested to receive an update on how the library has been doing on the ground floor of that well-used building – and the answer is – very well indeed, with dedicated staff and facilities for all age groups. I recognise that young people today are born with a smart phone or iPad in one hand, butthere is something timeless, magical and important about books that we lose at our peril. It was great to see so many parents and kids soaking up the latest storybooks.
I remember from my own childhood how important books were to me, and can still remember the thrill that a good read could generate. (Biggles was my favourite). These days I read for a while from the latest Lee Child or Bernard Cornwell before succumbing to sleep.
So it is good to see Ivybridge library flourishing and remaining a vital community facility. A central location is very important along with accessibility to parking. Also co-location with coffee shop facilities seems to help, as doesaccess to side rooms for small meetings. Many people use the library to browse the internet, but the taking out and reading of books by all age groups remains their core business. It was good to hear about the new mobile delivery service to elderly people in the sticks who cannot easily get into town to exchange their own books. A person living alone can extract much comfort and stimulation from a good novel.
Devon County Council divested itself of responsibility for the running of the Ivybridge library some years ago, but it seems to be flourishing under its new framework of a Community Interest Company. Plympton and Plymstock also have thriving, well used, libraries – so this constituency is well blessed. There was some controversy in other parts of the City last year when some smaller libraries faced closure. It did seem to me that 17 in one city was a few too many, but every main community should have one.
This is a timely reminder that ownership models and financial support might change with the times, but the essence of a good library endures. Books. Long may it continue. If you have not dropped into your local library recently, why not give it a try?