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Staff Shortages Hinders Council's Mobile Library Plan

Clare Champion, Friday, 14th July 2006

The public sector embargo on recruiting additional staff has been cited as one of the main stumbling blocks preventing the provision of a mobile library service in south east Clare.

Clare County Councillor, Pascal Fitzgerald, had asked the County Council to give an indication of how long residents in Westbury, Shannon Banks, Parteen and Clonlara would have to wait for a Local Authority Library service.

County Librarian, Noel Crowley, told councillors at a Killaloe Electoral Area meeting on Tuesday that the Council wasn't able to proceed with proposals for the development of a permanent Library, in conjunction with other state bodies, at a number of locations in south east Clare over the past 20 years.

With no plans from Limerick City Council to develop a new Library facility on the Clare/Limerick border, Mr. Crowley admitted that Clare County Council were anxious to provide a service for people living in south east Clare.

Because of the difficulties of obtaining a suitable premises in the local community, he proposed that the provision of a mobile Library service was the best solution in the short term. However, he pointed out that the Council needed a driver and a librarian to deliver the mobile service, which it couldn't afford and wouldn't be able to recruit, due to the public sector embargo.

If two staff members were made available, he pledged that the Council would do its utmost to provide the service about once a fortnight to most locations and once a week to densely populated areas such as Athlunkard. This new mobile unit could also be used to serve other Clare communities. While reference services were available in Limerick City, Clare people could also order books from the Clare Library service online.

He explained that the provision of a new purpose-built Library in Scariff would ensure that Library facilities were provided for most areas with a population of over 1,000. Asked about the possibility of leasing a building, he pointed out that the Department of Finance was against this option as it was felt it represented bad value for money.

Councillor Tony O'Brien proposed the Council's Human Resources section should be asked if it could provide two staff members for the mobile Library unit. Senior Executive Engineer, Sean Lenihan, confirmed that there wasn't any space for a Library in the Council's new sub office in a premises leased in the Westbury Neighbourhood centre.

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