Designs have been unveiled for the new Portlaoise library, a €3.2 million state of the art facility replacing the vacant former Shaws shop.
Portlaoise architects McCarthy O'Hora plan to convert the landmark shop on Main Street into a modern three storey building, to be opened by 2019.
Plans are to be put on display in county hall next week, but were revealed yesterday at the April meeting of Laois County Council.
The building will be extended into its carpark, rising to three stories in sections, to cover 1,500 square metres.
There will be a self checking area, but the library will be fully staffed, Director of Services Donal Brennan confirmed.
“The ground floor will have an exhibition area, and sections for adults, teenagers, children. The first floor will have a study and a community meeting room, and the third floors are for staff and storage,” he said.
There will also be an IT section, and a small sculpture garden at the back, taking up the remaining old carpark.
“That will be used as a children's reading area in the summer. We are trying to bring in as much light as possible,” he said.
He said the library would bring more people to Main Street.
“It should lead to increased footfall in the library, and in that area of the town,” he said.
No decision will be made on what to put in the old library, in Lyster Square.
“That was meant to be a temporary building, 30 years ago,” commented Cllr Mary Sweeney, who works there.
“It is great to see this moving forward, and the fact that it is being expanded is critical. It will help to regenerate Main Street,” she said.
Cllr James Kelly noted the urgency of moving the courthouse from Main Street.
“The place needs to be safer,” he said.
Cllr Willie Aird asked that the sculpture fund, provided for all public works, be used to create a bronze of three people carrying books walking towards the door.
County hall bought the vacated store for €450,000 in late 2013, and will match a government grant of €1.65 with local funds to convert it.
The project is now at Part VIIIstage, when the public has six weeks to view the plans and make submissions,
It is expected to start construction in 2018.