People Before Profit TD expresses fear that smaller local libraries across the county may now close
In a statement today, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, criticised Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, for closing Dun Laoghaire Library before there is even a confirmed date for the opening of the new LexIcon, leaving the people of the county town without any library.
The new Library & Cultural Centre, which cost €36.6 million to build, was opposed by many local people including People Before Profit, who were the only political party to oppose it on the grounds that the size, location on seafront and the exorbitant cost.
People Before Profit also expressed fears from the very outset that the staffing requirements of the new super-library, against the background of a public sector recruitment embargo would lead to the down grading or even closure of other local libraries. People Before Profit now believe these fears could be realised.
The plans are to open the new 3 storey library for 57 hours a week and it seems clear that this new library could suck up the majority of the library staff in the county and put other smaller libraries at risk.
Council management are suggesting using Gateway staff, an internship programme that sees jobseekers being paid €20 per week to work in local authorities, in the new super-library.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The new super-library in Dun Laoghaire is an enormous project. Council management would like to open it 57 hours a week, this number of hours across 3 stories will need skilled librarians, library assistants and library attendants if this public facility is to live up to its potential. It is as yet unclear, how this level of staffing will be provided without negatively impacting on other local libraries.”
“It would be utterly unacceptable to us and I am sure to the current library staff, to have Gateway interns, stacking shelves and doing other tasks that should be carried out by library assistants. It would also be a total disgrace if this new library resulted in a single hour less of service in other local libraries across the county.”
“I understand that some new staff have been allowed by the department but, considering the high numbers of library staff who have left and not been replaced in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown over the last number of years, it is becoming clear that there will not be enough skilled staff for what should be a state of the art new facility.
“It is also rumoured that the running costs of the building, by a private Buildings Management Company, could be as much as €1million per year. This will place a further strain on already stretched local budgets.”
“We are calling on the County Manger to abandon plans to use Gateway staff and to look for the required amount of staff from the department so that this library can open to the public.”