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30 Nov 2021

New date confirmed to finish delayed new Portlaoise library

New date confirmed to finish delayed new Portlaoise library

Image of Portlaoise library, by McCarthy O'Hora architects.

The long delayed new library in Portlaoise has another completion date, confirmed this week by Laois County Council.

The €5.2 million library is under construction for some three years on Main Street. First expected to be complete in 2017, the latest date for its completion, given by Laois County Council a year ago, was April 2022.

This week Director of Services Donal Brennan confirmed a new date to the Leinster Express, with another full year to wait.

"The expected finish of the construction contract is Q3/Q4 2022," he said.

The site was bought in 2013 from Shaws for €450,000, but the rising construction cost caused the council to stall the project until more government funding was agreed. Work began in early 2019 with demolition of the old shop. However Covid lockdowns and soil problems on site caused further delays.

It is expected to cost €5.189 million including VAT. A state grant is paying €3.876m of that, with the other €1.313m from the council’s local budget.

It is designed by Portlaoise architects McCarthy O'Hora, to have a 1,500m² central branch library with a local studies centre, an ICT room, staff offices, events area and an exhibition space. 

The new landmark county library will have a series of interconnecting rooms both single height and double height, lined with bookcases, reading desks and galleries, offering a combination of calm study areas and animated public spaces. The old Shaws corner pediment will be recreated in a new design.

Construction on the new building is now at first floor stage.

The existing smaller library is on the first floor above shops in Lyster Square.

The new library will receive €25,000 again in 2022 towards the cost of fitting it out with new books and other items, out of Laois County Council's annual budget. The €25,000 has been set aside yearly for the past few years.

Meanwhile the total cost of running Laois library services in 2022 will rise to €2.04 million in 2022, from €1.9 million in 2021.

Most of that is payroll for library staff, €1.383 million, up from €1.249 million. Director for Finance Gerry Murphy said that the "significant rise"  is related to a pay agreement with FORSA workers union. 

Laois has ten libraries, four full-time and six part-time. 

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