Concerns raised at council meeting about pilot project at Tubbercurry library

A Sligo county councillor has raised concerns about safety and supervision in libraries while they are being used as part of a pilot project outside normal hours and when staff are not present.

The Open Libraries pilot project has been running in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo and in two libraries in County Offaly.

But Sinn Fein Councillor Thomas Healy, who raised the concerns, was told at this week’s meeting of Sligo County Council that the council had to move ahead and embrace the modern technology that has made it possible to have so-called ‘staffless libraries’ or risk being left behind.

Councillor Healy proposed that Sligo County Council oppose the national policy proposing staffless libraries.

The policy comes under the My Open Library Scheme from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Cllr Healy told the council meeting of concerns he had about the operation of the scheme as a result of information he had obtained in relation to its operation in County Offaly, some of which was obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

He said 111 library members had their open library membership temporarily withdrawn due to breaches of terms and conditions.

He claimed one member had their library membership permanently withdrawn due to having been under the influence of alcohol.

And he said, most worrying, there were six incidents of children having been left unsupervised during staffless hours.

He also claimed people had given their library cards to others which enabled them open the door of the library and use it.

Cllr Healy says that while he is all for new technology, safety for users is paramount:

However, County Librarian Donal Tinney says every effort was made in setting up the pilot project in Tubbercurry to ensure safety and security.

The council discussion ended with Cllr Healy agreeing to defer his motion for six months to see how the new system works, after which he wants a report from the council.