THE chief executive of Cork County Council has moved to dispel fears that changes to the current library system would result in job losses.
The issue was raised this week at the council’s most recent meeting by Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Frick Murphy.
He said the implementation of the Government’s new My Open Library scheme, which would see the installation of self-service facilities, would eventually lead to entirely staffless libraries.
Party colleague Councillor Eoghan Jeffers agreed.
“This is coming under the guise of improving libraries, but once these (self-service) machines are installed I do think that there will be further reductions in working hours for library staff and that we might eventually see that there might be certain libraries with no staff,” he said.
Independent Councillor Mary Linehan Foley said the scheme would be “detrimental” to libraries.
However, the council’s chief executive, Tim Lucey, dubbed the My Open Library concept “an extremely positive move” which will open up the service to more people
“It would be a policy that I would certainly support in terms of extending the capacity of our library service,” he said.
“This is a process which is intended to be, over time, funded by Government for the purpose of making our libraries more accessible outside normal working hours and to enable people, through proper security arrangements, to improve the service particularly in the evenings and at weekends.”
He said nationally there has been a lot of “scaremongering” about the issue, and assured the councillors there would be no reduction in library staff.
“Absolutely not. That is not the intention of it. It is the opposite. It is to utilise our resources so we can open the library service to more people at more convenient times without incurring additional cost to do so,” he said.
The scheme is currently operating in Offaly and Sligo and is due to be rolled out in 22 additional libraries this year. It would see libraries opening 365 days a year from 8am to 10pm. During unstaffed hours, the public would be expected to use self-service machines to borrow items, return items, print, photocopy, or use the internet on either the library machines or their own devices.