The oldest County Library has had a chequered and eventful history.
The authors have shown that low resources in a small authority is not just a present-day phenomenon; the struggle to improve free access to reading and information has been the task of a succession of Chairmen and the three County Librarians over 75 years.
I have been privileged to serve as Chairman during three financially difficult years, when the division of County Council resources has never before been under such severe public scrutiny. These years, and those of my immediate predecessors have been exciting and stimulating, with vast improvements spurred on by the energy and devoted professionalism of the present Director, Leonard Mitchell. As I write, the brickwork of the new Central Library in Newport is rising higher day by day, and I take a personal pride in this major achievement on behalf of the people of the Isle of Wight. Charles Seely's first achievement was also a building, and this short history is about the development of the service which grew around it, and about the people who influenced that growth.
A specialist history can be for just a few; but I hope that this story of a library will hold the interest of all who care for the past and can read for themselves how a vision grew into a reality.
Arthur Wadsworth, Chairman,
Amenities and Leisure Services Committee