Leitrim’s county councillors have voted against the proposed amalgamation of library services across Counties Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon.
At Monday’s Council meeting an emergency motion was put forward calling on the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government to appoint a County Librarian and voicing members opposition to proposals to amalgamate services in neighbouring counties.
Impact Union officials recently held a meet with county councillors and staff of the Local Authority on the proposed changes to the service.
Leitrim County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paddy O’Rourke, told the Leitrim Observer that plans to amalgamate the service were ‘unacceptable’. He added that there were serious concerns that Co Leitrim would lose out if such a proposal became a reality as the county has no County Librarian at the moment.
Cllr Des Guckian has also expressed his concerns over the changes.
In a statement issued this week he said that amalgamation would see one lead full-time County Librarian in place with the remaining two County Librarians have a lesser status.
“The “lead” is most unlikely to be Co Leitrim. We will have lost a very important position and further branch closures are quite likely if the normal “branch” system is changed to a mobile library service. We cannot afford any further job losses in this County,” he said.
“Impact informed us that there is no statutory basis for the new, so-called “cost-cutting” proposals. In fact the Department of Environment cannot show any figures to back up such a claim. On the basis that we have a small population, I feel that Co Leitrim and all its services is becoming a victim of the much-discredited McCarty Report of former Ministers Cowen and Lenihan. The government is getting away with pushing this toxic agenda of unrealistic cuts.”
Cllr Guckian said that statistics showed the branch services were well used and he pointed that many libraries acted as more than simply a place to borrow books, offering internet access, facilities for communities groups and much more.
“The impact of the proposed changes will further undermine the role of Leitrim Co Council. The Council has lost proper control, plus jobs, in Vocational Schooling, Third-level grants, water services and driving licence provision. Soon, the Council itself will be abolished. We must oppose this discrimination against us,” he insisted.