Could library’s future be decided at budget?

Inglis Hall
Inglis Hall

Members of the Edzell Library Action Group (ELAG) are hopeful that a final decision about the future of the library at Inglis Memorial Hall will be one step closer on Thursday after Angus Council hold their budget meeting.

In October the council stated they were considering creating a heritage visitor attraction, and in this process would also consider the future budget implications, including all costs associated with the employment of a member of staff, in setting up a lending library in the building,

This is an option that ELAG are keen to see come into fruition, but it would need the help of volunteers.

Angus Council closed Inglis Memorial Library together with three other rural libraries in April, 2010, as part of budget cuts and Edzell has since been serviced by a mobile library van. This proved to be an unpopular more, with over 400 people signing a petition to have the Inglis Memorial library reinstated.

The library, which consists of a collection of some 6,000 volumes, contains the original stock gifted to the village of Edzell by Lieutenant-Colonel R.W. Inglis and is considered to be the best preserved example of a Victorian public library in the United Kingdom.

The building and associated furnishings, books and monetary funds are held in trust and subject to the Deed of Gift granted by Lieutenant-Colonel Inglis in 1898 - requiring the building to be used as a public hall, library, reading room, caretaker’s room and associated purposes for the special use and benefit of the residents of Edzell.

A spokesperson for ELAG said: “ELAG have been in discussion with the council for three years now.

“We still do not know when a final decision will be taken about the future of the old library. “Apparently this can only become clearer once the results of Thursday’s budget meeting and the grant application are known.

“We understand Angus Council is currently investigating funding for restoration work. We really hope the application is successful.

“We welcome the restoration and would be delighted if the historical elements could be restored. However even if capital funding cannot be found for the restoration, the Combined Option could still go ahead.

“The Combined Option would cost just £5,700 to staff and gives Angus Council the opportunity to provide a nationally unique heritage attraction, in a flagship ‘combined service’ way. It would provide an improved lending library service for the community and give other rural areas an improved service too through the reallocation of mobile van hours which are currently spent in Edzell.”

As well as hosting an historic element it is suggested by ELAG that a Tourist Information service could also be provided.

“We believe it [the combined option] would also be far more in line with the terms of the Trust, would better honour the Trust and be in the best interests of Inglis Memorial Hall and the community.”

ELAG carried out a survey which they claim found 91 per cent of households preferring to have the library in Inglis Memorial Hall rather than the mobile van.

“This week’s budget meetings may be important for Edzell library,” added the ELAG spokesperson. “What happens there and what happens with the grant application may determine what happens at Inglis Memorial Hall.”

Angus Council can confirm that investigations are taking place to find a solution to help reinstate the library.

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Angus Council is currently investigating external funding sources to take forward plans for Edzell’s Inglis Memorial Library.

“A report on the outcome of funding applications will be taken to committee in April for further discussions.”