Library and Visitor Information Service performing well since Town Council took ownership in March 2019

Statistics released for the first year of the new combined library and visitor information service show that performance of all aspects of the service have gone up : from book and DVD loans, use of the public computers to events and clubs.

Key highlights up to March 2020 include

  • Books and media being borrowed increased by 5,658 or 18%, taking the annual total to 37,410.
  • Uses of public computers rose by 1,211 (17%), to 8,443.
  • People coming to events up by 1,068 (49%), to 3,257.
  • Overall footfall more than doubled, by 62,009, to stand at 117,429.

The Town Council took over the service from Cornwall Council, combining the library with the visitor information service with increased opening times from 3.5 to 6 days a week plus Summer Sundays.

More events are taking place in the Community Room, including adult education, organised by the St Ives Education Hub and Citizens Advice Cornwall has now re-started sessions.

A new Library Partnership Board of town councillors, customers and other community representatives, supports the new service and provides feedback and ideas.

Commenting, Cllr Tim Andrewes, who chairs the Council’s Facilities Committee said :

‘The report is very welcome and positive sign that our library remains a vital and relevant part of community life. We have been able to meet more of the needs of local residents when other library services have been struggling, it is very heartening to see.

A lot of time and effort by our staff and volunteers has been contributed to the new, improved service, and the Facilities Committee is really appreciative of all the hard work involved.

Jane Dews, manager of the Library and Information Service, commented:

‘The staff and volunteers have embraced the challenge of the merged service and we are delighted with the positive outcome. The Education Hub and Friends group have worked tirelessly in building educational classes and social activities over the year. Customer feedback on the new layout and the open feel has been positive. Sadly, the Corona virus means we only have a limited service at this time. But gradually, as the town re-opens, we hope our customers will feel confident enough to return and we can rebuild again.’

Tricia Friskney-Adams, a committee member of Friends of St Ives Library, who also chairs the Library Partnership Board, said:

‘’Whilst the transfer from Cornwall Council was a fraught and prolonged process, the progress witnessed over the last 12 months demonstrates a continuing need for a Library service in our town. Celebration of the written word is still at the centre of the service. However, the work of groups such as the Friends of St Ives Library (FOSIL), St Ives Education Hub and St Ives Archive has boosted use of the building. Monthly calendars put together by FOSIL demonstrate the sheer breadth of daytime and evening events and activities on offer. The creation of gallery space in the community room, funded by FOSIL, has attracted a wide variety of artists (and visitors) and provides a welcome space for yoga, pilates, educational opportunities and talks.

‘The focus now is to meet the challenge of the current situation, continue to provide an excellent library service and build on the activities that were offered prior to April 2020.’