Joe Behan - Independent Councillor - Wicklow County Council

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Staffless Libraries

Archive Statements > 2016

Staffless Libraries - A Step Too Far
16th November 2016

I was shocked to receive news from a concerned citizen yesterday that Wicklow County Council has been given approval to introduce a staffless library service in Arklow in 2017.

This has, as far as I am aware, been decided by unelected Council Management, without any discussion, decision or approval of all of the Elected Members of Wicklow County Council.

I have no doubt that the real agenda of the Dept. of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is eventually to remove completely the excellent Public Servants who run our treasured Library Service and replace them with electronic cards, tags and CCTV cameras.

I am appalled at the lack of respect this initiative shows for the work of our librarians throughout County Wicklow and indeed the entire country. Librarians offer advice, assistance and a point of human contact for the many people who use our libraries every day. It is unthinkable that Wicklow County Council should follow the lead set by this utterly discredited Government in disrupting a service which has been so important in the lives of generations of our people.

Apart from the disgraceful replacement of future staff with electronic equipment, there are huge health and safety concerns associated with allowing access to libraries at night and weekends without staff on duty. What about elderly people or unaccompanied children who access the library at a time when opportunistic thieves, potential sex attackers or people with a history of anti social behaviour are also present in the library. The potential for serious harm is glaringly obvious.

We must say no to this transparent attempt to downgrade the work of our dedicated librarians in County Wicklow. We must insist that if libraries are to open for longer hours in the evenings and weekends, they should be staffed by women and men qualified to do the job and not by electronic equipment.

I will be proposing at the next meeting of Wicklow County Council that the Council should immediately pull out of any arrangement to introduce staffless opening hours in Arklow Library or indeed in any of the libraries in County Wicklow.

Cllr. Joe Behan

Serving the people of County Wicklow since 1985 |

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