plans for Portarlington’s new public library are well underway, except there is no money to build it.
A new purpose built library to include council offices is earmarked for a site beside Port’s fire station. Planning permission is secured and the job is ready to go to public tender, but there are no funds in Laois County Council’s budget to pay for it.
Acting county librarian, Bernie Foran says the project is it top of the list.
“I can’t say exactly when it will happen but our priority is Port. It’s the second biggest town in the county, we do recognise their needs. There are plans underway for a purpose built library and a civic office, on a green field site beside the fire station.
“It is with the Department of the Environment now and is ready to go to tender, with planning permission approved. Currently we have no funds to proceed,” she said.
The money will come jointly from Laois County Council and the Department of the Environment, Ms Foran explained.
For now locals will have to make to with the existing library, which is only open 19 hours a week, despite being in one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland.
Up to the end of May it had just one part time employee, Since May 29 a full time staff member has been working there, transferred from another library in the county.
Ms Foran says they are currently revamping the library and hoping to restore cancelled services like the book club.
“We are trying to tidy up and improve the premises. When that is complete we will review the book club and the IT classes,” she said.
Cllr James Deegan raised the issue during a recent area meeting, after he received a letter from a concerned Portarlington citizen.
“Port serves approximately 10,000 people, it should be considered for full time opening. They deserve a new library. They told me money is so tight they have to think twice about buying a can of paint. They are doing everything possible under staff constraints,” he said.