Tributes paid to North Devon librarian Ian Tansley

Former North Devon area librarian Ian Tansley

Former North Devon area librarian Ian Tansley - Credit: Contributed

One of the men who helped shape Barnstaple’s distinctive library has died. Ian Tansley, then North Devon’s area librarian, worked alongside architects when plans for the modern building in Tuly Street were being drawn up. 

His vision was for a community hub with space for, among other things, North Devon Athenaeum and the Tourist Information Centre. Later, he was instrumental in bringing computer technology both to the main library and to outlying rural areas. 

Born in Nottingham in 1947, Ian studied for A levels at night school after leaving school aged 16. He got a degree at Loughborough’s School of Librarianship before working as a librarian in Kent, Hartlepool and Cleveland. 

When he arrived in Barnstaple in November 1984 blueprints for the town’s new library were already under consideration and the neighbouring motte and bailey castle was being excavated. That’s where he met Linda Blanchard, the town’s archaeologist, and they married in 1985 

The library was finally opened on 24 May 1988. 

Before his retirement in 2006 cricket-fan Ian was responsible for library services across North Devon and Torridge, including children’s services and mobile libraries. 

He opened two new branches, in South Molton and Ilfracombe, and stepped in to preserve the James Ravillious photograph archive when it was under threat. 

Most Read

He also ensured books were sent to the housebound and into care homes, as well as prisons. For many years, Ian was chair of North Devon Citizen’s Advice Bureau and a parish councillor in Parracombe, where he lived with Linda and their two sons. 

Born on April 23, he shared a birthday with William Shakespeare and was an avid reader of classical and modern literature and poetry. 

He also enjoyed listening to classical music and played numerous sports, before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter