Sir, – In the Dáil on Tuesday, during the debate on a private member’s motion on water charges, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly stated that “the State builds libraries, yet people pay to take books out”. The Minister does not seem to be aware that it is a basic principle of a public library service that libraries be free, open and accessible to all. Thankfully, in most public library services throughout the country, citizens may still borrow books free of charge.
The Minister was reading from a script, so one assumes that senior officials in his department had some input into what the Minister had to say.
One can only assume that these are the very same officials who advised the previous minister in 2011 to abolish An Chomhairle Leabharlanna (the Library Council), declaring it to be a quango.
The Library Council, established in 1947 by Erskine Childers, did invaluable work in its 64 years of existence in maintaining standards and in providing leadership for the public library service.
With library book funds now being decimated, with staff not being replaced and library opening hours being reduced, one can only consider as deplorable the loss of the voice of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna in making the case for libraries in tough economic times. – Yours, etc,