Any attempt to cut or alter the funding to the library service in Co Leitrim was met with stiff opposition at Leitrim County Council's AGM last Monday in Aras an Chontae.
Funding of €1,553,135 was proposed for the Library and Archival Service in 2018, up marginally from the 2017 allocation of €1,546,727.
This consisted of €968,431 on library service operations, €68,000 on the purchase of books, CDs, etc, €21,000 on the archive service, as well as €495,704 on service support costs which includes salaries.
Cllr Paddy O'Rourke asked if the reduction of service support costs of some €18,729 from the 2017 total would have any impact on staffing levels in the library service.
Chief Executive, Joseph Gilhooly replied that there are no plans for any reduction in the service at the moment.
Cllr Justin Warnock raised the hackles of a number of members when he stated that while he had nothing against the library service, it was “a huge sum of money” and he questioned if any other services could benefit from some of that funding. “The county is on its knees,” he said.
Mr Gilhooly said in reply that Leitrim is renowned among other local authorities for having an exceptional library service that was built up over 30 years. He said it's a good service that a lot of people use and it does provide a good return on its investment.
Mary Quinn, Director of Service, pointed out that there are also a significant number of programmes run through the library service that provide real value to the lives of Leitrim people.
Cllr Seadhna Logan said it is his view that the service is under-resourced. “The reality is they are an essential fabric in a local community. Any cut to the library service would be detrimental and none of us could support it.”
Cllr Des Guckian said the library service do a good job and he urged there be no reduction in funding or staff levels.
Cllr Mary Bohan supported that view and said Leitrim County Council has a very good library service. “It is an essential service and so, so important,” she said, adding that it is a vital resource for students who have no broadband.
She said the Rowantree Centre in Drumkeerin is setting up a library service in the town and she requested the library service to support them by donating books.
Meanwhile, Cllr Felim Gurn suggested that the branch libraries in the various towns be linked to the genealogy centre in Ballinamore Library for people who are searching for their ancestors.