EXTENSIVE refurbishment work on Tullamore library is expected to commence in May and will include the long-awaited re-opening of the old bridge linking the rear of O’Connor Square and Church Street.
County Librarian Ms Mary Stuart presented a comprehensive report on the Library Development Plan to the February meeting of Tullamore Town Council last week.
The library serivce is also at present undertaking a review of opening hours and staff resources in an effort to find the optimum opening times to suit customers. Ms Stuart pointed out that although the library’s book fund had been cut by 50% the number of visits to libraries had increased by 16%, there had been a 10% increase in membership and a massive 76% increase in the use of internet services at libraries.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Molly Buckley complimented Ms Stuart and her staff on the wonderful service they provide despite cutbacks. “It is a great benefit to the community and it is great that it is being used and appreciated by the public.”
Cllr Buckley also praised Ms Stuart and library staff for their willingness to diversify and their flexibility which was ensuring the success of the service.
Cllr Tony McCormack said the library service was a vital and important service for the community and thanked staff for their input during the Know Your Tullamore event.
The news of the refurbishment was warmly welcomed by Cllr Sean O’Brien. “In these times of doom and gloom it is great to see that this is happening. It is a great credit to you what has been achieved. The fact that you’ve adapted new technology and are planning for the future - that’s your strength.”
Cllr Paddy Rowland asked Ms Stuart if the library would consider opening on Sundays as happened in other countries? Ms Stuart replied that they were undertaking an activity analysis and they would look at extending opening hours based on the results of that analysis. However, she pointed out that the library service had already introduced a new self-service option and that they were operating a 38 hours week service at present with only three staff.
Councillors Tommy McKeigue and Declan Harvey both agreed that the library was a wonderful facility for all the community - for schools, for the unemployed and for the elderly while Cllr McKeigue thought the access from O’Connor Square to Church Street via the old bridge was a very important development.
Cllr Brendan Killeavy was pleased that the old bridge was included in the plans and added that the library was an important service for unemployed people to develop skills to return to the work force.
Town Manager Declan Kirrane said that while the re-opening of the old bridge was included in the plans negotiations were still going on with adjacent landowners. It was the council’s ambition to improve the look of O’Connor Square with the new facade of the library and the re-opening of the bridge was an important aspect of this, he added.