The Family Library, made up of five unique components, is a specialised centre operating bespoke services on Westmoreland Road in Douglas.
From infants to elders, it caters to all ages.
Who are you and what do you do?
The Family Library is a hidden gem in the heart of Douglas offering a base for young people and families to enjoy spending true quality time together at little or no cost.
For our family service, there are opportunities to explore thousands of books, audio books and games as well as an open invitation to join in the many varied events and activities that are held almost every day of the week.
By reputation, our Family Library discos are always full as soon as tickets become available. We also held a record breaking LEGO exhibition that attracted 1,358 visitors in one day.
This very popular and memorable occasion was definitely another highlight for the Family Library and a very successful fundraising event.
We have a mobile library service, which is a library on wheels – if you can’t come to us, we can come to you!
Our big white, green and orange mobile bus holds more than 2,000 books and can frequently be seen travelling all around the island bringing smiles to faces young and old as it has done now for over 50 years. A vital and well-loved lifeline for those living in the rural communities.
Our home delivery service is a highly valued and bespoke door to door delivery of books and audio books, and a branch of the service that is also a lifeline for all grateful recipients.
Every month we choose and deliver books and audio books directly to the homes of those who find it difficult to travel.
We also provide monthly book exchanges to some residential homes.
Meanwhile, our bibliotherapy service is pioneered by staff at the mobile library. It is a social activity to prevent isolation and loneliness enabling engagement through books, photographs and artefacts to keep minds active and healthy.
The school service is a bespoke service tailored to the island’s schools to deliver handpicked books and artefacts to support educational learning.
Class visits are also frequently held in the Family Library for schools to enjoy further resources that are available.
We can offer any class the opportunity to join us and celebrate a topic through a themed event at no extra cost.
We also have support from public accountancy firm PwC, which kindly sponsors our Family Library reading scheme.
Why and when did you form?
The Family Library, in various guises, has been an integral part of the Manx community for over a century. The rural library of the 1920s has evolved into the range of services which we currently have.
The originally named Children’s Library has operated for many decades, such that families have three generations coming into the library at the same time.
For example, grandparents who used to bring their children to the library are now bringing their grandchildren.
The Children’s Library was renamed to the Family Library more than 20 years ago to reflect that this was an exclusive library for children, not a tucked away section of an adult library.
We encourage activities, music and conversation within our inclusive events that children of all ages can share with their friends and family.
The books have always been a backdrop to those activities to encourage rather than force reading on anyone.
The final element that was added was the schools service, which was a logical way of sharing curriculum resources (not just books) when the library was part of the education department.
However, this has developed in a similar manner to the mobile services, now curating items for the curriculum and doing joint outreach projects to schools with the Family Library and partners such as the RAF, where we recently took rocket building into selected schools.
What has been your biggest achievement or proudest moment since forming?
Keeping our doors open and our services running no matter how tight funding has been and adapting our services during the Covid pandemic are certainly some of our greatest achievements.
In doing what we do well, we have worked to a theme of sparking young minds and keeping older minds active.
So, we believe we have a well- proven and developed set of services that have been tuned over many decades to provide efficient but caring and customised services in the most cost effective manner possible to the whole of the island community.
Our most recent and proudest moment would be securing funding for the next five years from the Scheinberg family and the Isle of Man Government.
Since 2015, we have never had the security of funding for more than 12 months, so this is significant in that we can now approach sponsors and start planning for exciting new projects with the confident knowledge that operational costs are being met.
What is your biggest ambition/goal for the future?
To keep our doors open and our services running.
As the government funding is set to decrease by £15,000 each year, our first goal is raising at least that amount.
We have a whole range of ways in which people can help sustain and assist us to ensure that we remain a viable entity for future generations.
How can people get involved?
You can pop in the big old grey building on Westmoreland Road anytime you’re passing to see first hand a little bit of what we are about and what we offer, or jump on the bus and introduce yourself if you want to volunteer time or contribute a donation.
On the mobile and in the Family Library we have readily available a full and inclusive sponsorship booklet that has been published with ideas and opportunities to support the Family Library.
Schools and local firms and business could host a charity fundraising event for us or we could be nominated to become a company’s chosen charity for the year.
We are always looking for people to help! So, if there is anyone out there who is an ideas person with time and commitment to lead and organise a fundraising event on our behalf, you would be most welcome to join the Friends of the Family Library Committee that meet on a monthly basis.
Where can people find you and where can they donate?
Visit our website www.familylibrary.im where you can explore our services and follow the buttons to donate via a number of options or donate directly through a bank transfer.
Alternatively, scan the QR code below and make a direct donation to our Family Library PayPal account.