Novel idea: County Limerick library to open without staff

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Novel idea: County Limerick library to open without staff

The  facility will go from being open 24 hours over four days, to being open 98 hours a week

WHEN it was proposed in 2016 that Cappamore library would open without staff, councillors gave a one word answer - no!

They were worried about vandalism, thefts, job losses, health and safety.

However, three years on city and county librarian, Damien Brady has got a happier ending to a meeting with councillors in the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district.

They backed his proposal for the €1m facility in Cappamore to be the first in County Limerick to be part of the My Open Library pilot project.

Currently, it is closed Saturday, Sunday and Mondays and then open from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm from Tuesday to Friday. Mr Brady said this will change to 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

“The only way you can manage that is through technology. People can enter and leave with a card and code. You would never get staff to cover 98 hours a week,” said Mr Brady.

Insurance was a concern but IPB have agreed to cover the building, he said.

Mr Brady said a deal has been made with the union about the My Open Library pilot.

“It won’t replace jobs or vacancies. If a librarian is sick they will be replaced with a person,” said Mr Brady.

Security has been ramped up with extra cameras, a monitoring system and a panic button.

“There will be an induction for everyone on how to exit the building if an incident happens. For example, if you want to go into the library at 5.10pm on a Tuesday  you swipe your card and key in your personal code. The system knows who is entering and leaving. If somebody rushes in behind you as you enter you are required to make contact with security. It is self responsibility,” said Mr Brady.

The librarian said people’s lives have changed and quoted Minister Michael Ring’s phrase, “We want to keep a light on in rural Ireland”.

“A lot of people commute to work. Evenings and weekends is when they can use the library and it is closed. We spent €1m on Cappamore library. It will increase footfall. People can borrow, return, print, photocopy, study, hold small meetings.

“In general, libraries don’t attract anti-social behaviour. Charges have been abolished so there is no money on the premises. The items are free to borrow. We have excellent staff and we should try it,” said Mr Brady.

Cllr Bill O’Donnell said there is “a huge sense of enthusiasm for this”.

“I trust in you if you trust in this,” said Cllr O’Donnell.

Cllr Brigid Teefy said a lot of issues regarding security and staffing have been sorted. 

“Damien runs a fantastic library service. This pilot project gives more people the opportunity to use it,” said Cllr Teefy.

Cllr Ger Mitchell praised the “attention to detail” in Mr Brady’s presentation.

“It is a great concept and I support the pilot project. The public will welcome extra opening hours,” said Cllr Mitchell.

Mr Brady thanked the councillors and said the My Open Library pilot project in Cappamore will commence “sooner rather than later”. If successful other libraries in County Limerick could follow Cappamore’s plan.