After more than 17 years with the Mobile Family Library, Sandra Henderson is hoping to use her retirement to spend more time reading!
Sandra is a familiar face to the many people who treasure the visits of the Mobile Library to their neck of the woods. As she has often avowed, the service it provides is so much more than books – it’s a real part of the community.
That service will continue, with Sally Hardman taking over as the Librarian-in-Charge of the Mobile Family Library, and Sandra can look back with pride at what has been achieved and continues to be achieved.
‘The Mobile Family Library is a huge part of the community,’ said Sandra. ‘I have made so many friends over the years as we’ve taken our books to the parts of the island not everyone else can reach.
‘I know I’m leaving it in good hands and I am sure I will still get to see some of those friendly faces out and about.’
Although Sandra plans to devote more time to travelling with her family, she is also looking forward to something else.
‘Ironically, I will have more time to read,’ she said. ‘So, I’m looking forward to spending more time with books, both for myself and reading with my grandson.’
The future of libraries in the Isle of Man is currently being looked at by a Tynwald select committee. It follows a Manx Government contribution of £100,000 to ensure the Mobile Family Library and the Family Library, based in Douglas, will keep running for at least one more year.
The Family Library and Mobile Family Library are now run as a charity and it takes £250,000 to ensure the many services continue. These services include direct delivery to the doorstep for those who cannot get out, preparing special topic packs for schools, a Bibliotherapy service – a scheme supported by the Manx Lottery Trust that encourages social interaction through books – and providing a location for youngsters to access books, games and many events, crafts and workshops.
The services rely upon donations and fundraising activities. One major benefactor has been the Scheinberg family, which has pledged to match other donations up to £125,000, in each of the coming three years.
Sandra said that libraries – including those run by local authorities – play an important part in society.
‘My message is that all the libraries could work together more than they do,’ she said. ‘There is no reason why we cannot use each others’ stock and actually fine-tune the stock we have.
‘It would be a great way to save all the libraries some money.
‘The Mobile Family Library goes all around the island, so it could be the vehicle for moving the books around, between the libraries.’
Sandra’s career as a Librarian first began in the UK, first in North Wales, then in Staffordshire. When she came to the Isle of Man, she worked at Manx Airlines, creating a library of all the engineering manuals.
She moved into education, working at Ballakermeen School in Douglas. When the opportunity to take over as head of what is now the Mobile Family Library service came along it was impossible to resist.
After a period when the crucial community role played by libraries appeared to have been forgotten in the UK, Sandra believes that people are starting to realise their value extends much beyond books. They can be meeting places, act as community notice boards and can be used by local authorities to interact with their ratepayers.
Sandra is optimistic that the current Tynwald would continue to recognise the importance of all libraries.
‘I know from the faces I have seen regularly on the Mobile rounds and from the way in which the youngsters enjoy the Family Library, that libraries have a future,’ she added.
‘We just have to make sure we all support them.’
To find out more about the Mobile Family Library and its timetable and to learn more about events at the Family Library, which is next to the children’s playground in Westmoreland Road, Douglas, plus the many other services available, visit www.familylibrary.im