Library’s place is a strategic issue
In his recent newsletter, Journal December 24, the town clerk kept people informed of the latest situation with regard to Rolle College, following an inspection of the site by members of the Task and Finish Forum (TAFF
In his recent newsletter, Journal December 24, the town clerk kept people informed of the latest situation with regard to Rolle College, following an inspection of the site by members of the Task and Finish Forum (TAFF).
In doing so, he floated the idea that the library at Rolle might be utilised, 'part of that use might include new library facilities for the town'. In last week's Journal (Letters pages) Roma Patten also suggests that this might be a desirable possibility.
Now this idea was not one of those approved at the 'town meeting' and, as such, represents 'project drift' with no obvious public mandate. So far, insufficient has been said to ascertain whether the proposal is for a replacement of the current Exeter Road library or simply an addition to it. I must assume replacement, as the increased overheads and inconvenience of operating two libraries in the town would undoubtedly prove prohibitive.
If the current library is to be moved, thought should be given as to whether the new location will be better for the town or whether it will compromise the town's long term library provision. If it is a compromise solution, simply to gild the Rolle educational proposition for Devon County Council, is the compromise worthwhile?
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Certainly there would be an impact on traders in the Exeter Road, which might adversely affect profits in what is already a fairly harsh trading environment. Are they going to be consulted?
The area around the present library is much more densely populated. Many of these people will already use the library because of its convenient location and free facilities.
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The Exmouth Community Association's (ECA) working party on libraries concluded that libraries should be as near the town centre as possible. Libraries act as attractants. Visitors boost trade in the locality. I understand that a visit to the new, 'off-centre', library in Teignmouth revealed a drop in visitor numbers and library use. Is this sound research to be ignored?
I am not arguing whether the library should, or should not, be moved to Rolle, merely that the placement of a library is a strategic issue and should therefore be given very careful consideration before any compromises are accepted. If, in seeking one objective, we simply throw everything else into the cooking pot, we will simply end up with a hotch-potch of a town with no coherent focus.
Is it worth making an existing educational resource, the library, less accessible simply to advance the case for Rolle? That is a question that should be asked!
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