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Funding Boost For Two Popular Island Libraries Announced

Two popular Island libraries are set to receive a £150,000 funding boost.

The Isle of Wight Council's Library Service has been successful in securing new funding from Arts Council England to improve facilities and access at Cowes and Ryde libraries.

At Cowes Library, the funds will be used to improve access at the library entrance, with a wider door opening from the ramp, and a new internal door making it easier for people with prams, or in wheelchairs or mobility scooters to enter the building.

The office area at the back of the library is going to be redesigned to include an accessible toilet and kitchen area, which will mean the library can be used by groups outside opening hours, as well as enjoyed by library customers.

At Ryde Library, new accessible toilets will be installed, approached via a widened corridor. The children’s library will be brightened up with a new carpet, and the Friends of Ryde Library are paying for new shelving.

The works at Cowes and Ryde libraries are planned to take place in September 2024, with minimum disruption to library customers.

Between them, the two libraries attracted around 180,000 visitors last year, and hosted a wide number of activities run by libraries such as Rhymetimes, storytimes and book group meetings, and many activities run by partner organisations such as Playlist for Life dementia sessions, AgeUK digital skills workshops, Sewing Bees and Philo Cafes.

Rob Jones, library service manager, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our Libraries Improvement Fund bid has been successful.

"This money will really make a difference at Cowes and Ryde libraries, allowing all our residents to come into the libraries easily, and have toilet and kitchen facilities they can all use while attending events and activities.”

Phil Gibby, area director, south west, Arts Council England, said:

"We’re thrilled to announce a further £777,000 investment in library initiatives across the South West.

"Thanks to our Libraries Investment Fund and the hard work of staff and volunteers, we can help libraries engage more audiences than ever with the lifelong joy of reading. 

"By 2030, our goal is to ensure that high-quality culture is easily accessible to everyone in England. Thanks to library teams and their loyal visitors, that vision is becoming a reality.” 

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