IMPACT trade union represents library staff nationwide and is concerned at proposals to amalgamate libraries in order to bring the number of library services in the country from 32 to 23.
The counties involved in these proposals are Cavan/Monaghan, Laois/Offaly, Longford/Westmeath, Carlow/Kilkenny, Cork City/County, and Sligo/Leitrim/Roscommon.
The amalgamation would mean that whilst money is provided for the service by one local authority, another would manage the service.
Peter Nolan, National Secretary with IMPACT trade union said “there are legitimate fears about the future of local library services as the new governance structure could be outside the remit of public representative advocacy and local authority influence”.
IMPACT is also concerned about the steady erosion of responsibilities in local authorities; Mr Nolan said “Local authorities have been divested of their responsibilities for Irish Water, Higher Education Grants, and driver licensing, we do not want to see another service removed”.
Mr Nolan explained that the only direct cost saving outlined in the proposals are from the suppression of a county librarian post. Mr Nolan said “no cost benefit analysis has been carried out, whilst the merger of two or three library services in this way will result in a loss of expertise at the highest level and ultimately lead to a reduced service to the public.
IMPACT met with the Local Government and Management Services Agency yesterday (28/01/15). No progress was made at these discussions and the Management confirmed that very few of the required proposals had been received.
“There are a number of back office solutions which could create cost savings. Amalgamation of library services under the banner of two to three counties does not have to be the answer”.
Seventeen million visits are made to public libraries each year. Mr Nolan said “They are one of the main social hubs of the rural community. We cannot allow the library system to be to be gutted for the sake of number crunching and minimal cost savings”.