Ideas to be sought for re-use of former Dun Laoghaire library

Councillors approve motion saying Carnegie building should not be commercialised

The Carnegie Library in Dun Laoghaire opened in 1912. Photograph: Dun Laogaire/Rathdown County Council

The Carnegie Library in Dun Laoghaire opened in 1912. Photograph: Dun Laogaire/Rathdown County Council

 

Expressions of interest are to be sought for the re-use of the former Carnegie Library building in Dun Laoghaire, the local council has said.

However, councillors this week approved a motion saying the building “should not be commercialised or used as part of any pilot scheme” and should instead be used for community purposes.

The library, designed by O’Callaghan and Webb as part of an architectural competition, opened in 1912 and remained the local library for 100 years until it was replaced by the newly-built dlr LexIcon library.

In a report, the council said the former library building “is an important part of the town’s architectural heritage”, and that its reopening will help to revitalise the Old Town Quarter of Dun Laoghaire.

The council added that potential suitable uses for the building include a centre for educational development and innovation, a technological/digital innovation hub, a cultural/community/tourism attraction or a social enterprise and innovation centre.

It said that a schedule of esssential works will need to be tendered and carried out to allow the building to be reused, and then an invitation for expressions of interest will be advertised.

This will be followed by a selection process and a successful applicant will be chosen from a shortlist of three (each of whom must confirm that the building will be open for public and community use for a minimum 30 hours a week).

Councillors on the Dun Laoghaire area committee voted unanimously in favour of the motion against commercialising the building.

“It actually put a halt to the council’s expression of interest process,” said Sinn Féin councillor Shane O’Brien who tabled the motion, adding that a new expression of interest report will be brought to the area committee next month.

Mr O’Brien said councillors “want to see the building used for community use” and felt that community groups would struggle to make a successful expression of interest under the terms set out in the council’s report.

Carnegie libraries were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries using money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. More than 2,500 were built across the world, including in the United States, Britain, Ireland and Canada.

O’Callaghan and Webb also designed the Carnegie library in Tralee, Co Kerry, and both buildings compare stylistically to the Carnegie libraries in America.

Separately, the council said the project to redevelop the Dun Laoghaire baths will be tendered this month with work expected to commence early this summer.