Tramore Town Manager Brian White has denied that the resort’s public library is in a shabby condition or that it poses any threat to health and safety.
At the Town Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night Lola O’Sullivan called on the County Council to provide a better library infrastructure to meet demand from a rapidly growing population.
She said that since the library open in 1984 the population it served had almost doubled and there were 79,000 visitors last year. “It was never envisaged that the building would serve that many people and there are health and safety issues in relation to accessibility”, she maintained. She added that the original furniture was still in situ and the place was generally shabby.
She said a new library was needed and suggested the feasibility of a public-private partnership, like that obtaining at Ardkeen in Waterford, should be examined. She was also of the view that the facility should be located if possible on a green field site, preferably close to the new amalgamated school at Ballycarnane.
Mr. White agreed the library was small for the number of people it now served, but he strongly disputed that it was shabby in appearance or that it failed to meet health and safety standards. It was the first in the county to be targeted for wheelchair accessibility and the County Council had also invested in new computer equipment there.
Long term, the building would not be ideal for expansion and unfortunately the Council did not own land close to the new school location. In due course a suitable site, possibly close to other public services, would be pinpointed and he also undertook to examine the possibility of a public-private involvement. But in the short term it was not a priority – other centres in the county had no public library, he pointed out.
He envisaged any such development being some years down the line, but it would be kept on the agenda and he would report back to the Town Council on the subject.
In the short term, some renovations would be carried out and funding had been provided for an increased book supply.
Cllr. O’Sullivan persisted with her complaints and invited the Manager to accompany her to the library at any busy period to see for himself what she was talking about. He said he was familiar with the situation and stood over his observations, but at the same time he accepted it was crowded at times and said he would work with the staff in an attempt to improve matters.
Mayor Joe Conway identified an apparent anomaly in funding in that the county only got €30,000 in 2006 from the Department of Education and Science to augment library stock, compared to €36,000 for the city which only had three-quarters the population.
The Manager said that issue had been raised with the Department and it was explained in response that the city library at Ardkeen served part of the county. But he conceded that was not the only area where there was perceived inequality in favour of the city.