The news that Kilkenny County Council has cancelled all funding for the purchase of new books, and has even been forced to cancel the buying of new magazines has been described as scandalous by Labour Party Councillor and primary school principal, Seán Ó hArgáin, who has called for emergency funding to be secured from central government to reverse the situation.
“The confirmation that our libraries can no longer buy new books comes at the worst possible time. Thousands of people in Kilkenny have lost their jobs in recent months, and the library is a lifeline for them. The ability to go to a bookshop and buy the newest titles is simply gone for many families for whom putting bread on the table is now where every penny goes. Surely we can continue to allow these people to get access to a vital service, particularly when so many people have time on their hands.
The news that the purchasing of all magazines has been cancelled and that the librarian had to fight to even keep a stock of newspapers is far worse however. Newspapers in particular are a vital source of information for jobseekers and are now in danger of being one of the luxuries people cannot afford. It is important that libraries continue to be a place of refuge for those seeking to re-enter the workforce as quickly as possible. It would be ludicrous if they could not access local and national newspapers to help them in this regard.
Once again, this is all about the most vulnerable being hit to pay for the calamitous mistakes of Government. Unemployed people are being deprived of access to books and magazines because the banks and developers have bankrupted the country.”
Cllr. Ó hArgáin concluded by welcoming the decision of the county council last week to abolish library charges for those in receipt of Social Welfare payments. He had campaigned for the total abolition of library fees in line with other areas of the country. He also welcomed the continuation of the schools library service which had been in some doubt and which he and Cllr. Anne Phelan had made strong representations to save, but he called for Central Government to step in immediately to allow the library service to continue to provide basic facilities to the public.