Fingal to curtail library opening hours

Rush, Balbriggan, and Baldoyle to be affected

Councillors say school children will be hit by the reduced opening hours. Photograph: Eric Luke/IRISH TIMES

Councillors say school children will be hit by the reduced opening hours. Photograph: Eric Luke/IRISH TIMES

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 11:06

Fingal county councillors have called on the county manager to reconsider proposals which would see some library opening times curtailed by up to 17 hours a week.

Under the plan opening hours at Balbriggan Library will be reduced from 54 a week to 37, while Baldoyle and Rush libraries will go from 50 hours to 37.

The public sector recruitment moratorium and the high age profile of library workers has led to staffing shortages, according to Betty Boardman, the council’s senior executive librarian, who said they were “finding it very difficult to keep the doors open”.

According to a management report the new opening arrangements will keep all “service points” open and avoid unplanned closures while freeing up “approximately nine staff which will enable us to fill gaps due to retirements”.

But councillors were unanimous in their condemnation of the proposals. “This council would be far better off,” said Cllr Ciaran Byrne (Lab), “if national Government got the hell out of our business and stopped telling us who we can and cannot recruit”.

Cllr Tom O’Leary (FG) said he had received “copious amounts” of emails from residents in Rush complaining about the plans.

During “tough times” libraries provide an important service for unemployed people, he said, adding that the measures were “very regrettable”.

Cllr Ruth Coppinger (Soc) said the proposed earlier closing times in Baldoyle will affect students whose homes are not conducive to study. “It will be the most hard-pressed students who are hit by this,” she said.

The council passed a motion requesting county manager David O’Connor “to review and reconsider the matter of curtailing the hours in Rush, Balbriggan, and Baldoyle libraries”.