Librarians protest against plans to automate library in Dun Laoghaire
Move goes against job category of librarian and the ethos of the library service, they claim
A protester at the library in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
It goes against the job category of librarian and the ethos of the library service to have Dun Laoghaire’s €30million dlr Lexicon open without library staff, protesters claimed on Sunday.
As the library opened for four hours with just security staff in place, in what Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council described as a pilot programme, a small group of librarians , politicians and readers formed a protest.
Inside the multi-media library, banks of computer consoles remained available while occassional members of the public, some with children, wandered in on upper levels and out again, descending the stairs to the seaside end of the building.
Peter Molloy of Booterstown who was visiting the library with his two sons said they had not known in advance about the protest, but had wanted to see what the library looked like.
“I wanted my children to get a feel for it and I hope they will become familiar with it. I also hope there will always be librarians here to help them”, he said.
However the busiest part of the building was the coffee shop on the lower floor where families were taking refuge from sudden and heavy rain showers.
Additional security staff were laid on to oversee patrons checking in and out books using the library’s automated system.
Outside, sheltering under an underhang, librarian Shelley Healy explained staff had already balloted in favour of industrial action over existing cuts and staffing levels across the service. This action had been suspended to allow for negotiations, she said.
But separately the council announced that on an experimental basis it would open the library without librarians for four hours on Sundays, she said.
Ms Healey said there were many things librarians do which would not be done in the absence of librarians. These included assisting older people with the use of computers, or giving people information on what was available physically or in searchable form online.
Librarians were a qualified profession familiar with books and referencing and provided information , she said.
Dun Laoghaire People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said “the essence of a public building is to be genuinely accessible so people with different levels of education can use it. Is this what we really want, that machines would take over people’s jobs?” .