Minister Heather Humphreys in Portlaoise on Wednesday afternoon
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys was in town on Wednesday afternoon to turn the sod on the new Portlaoise library at Lower Main Street.
“My Department’s Libraries Capital Programme is investing €3 million in this build but without considerable investment and commitment from Laois County Council we wouldn’t be here today commencing this exciting project," the Minister noted.
"I know this library will be a top-class facility located at the heart of your community and is going to be a huge boost to the town.”
The Minister thanked Laois County Council and library staff "for their continued energy and commitment, which has been especially evident during the past few months, and is key to the success of our public library service."
A €2.8 million package to assist libraries to adapt to Covid-19 was also announced by the Minister. This comprises Department funding of €2.5 million to support a Small Scale Capital Works Programme for public libraries.
This will be matched by local authorities to the value of approximately €280,000, giving a total investment of almost €2.8 million.
Announcing the new Small Scale Capital Works Programme, Minister Humphreys said, “One of the key actions of our public library Strategy Our Public Libraries - Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities, is to develop library buildings that are fit for purpose and reflect the quality of services on offer.
"I am delighted to be in a position to announce a Small Scale Capital Works Programme which is a new investment in public libraries.”
“We have in excess of 300 libraries across the country and this funding will support local authorities to transform many of their existing library buildings into modern, welcoming spaces that will leave a positive legacy for years to come.
“It will also allow libraries to be adapted to meet social distancing requirement and to provide additional remote working facilities. Libraries provide a broad range of important services for their communities and it is imperative that they be well maintained to ensure that people not only wish to utilise the service but also view the library as a modern, well equipped facility.”
Funding will be provided to upgrade facilities and technologies in libraries and make the buildings more sustainable and energy efficient.
In attendance at today's sod turning was Minister Sean Fleming as well as Cllrs Mary Sweeney (herself a former librarian) and Cllr Conor Bergin.
Laois County Council CEO, John Mulholland thanked the Minister and her Department for her support.
Cathaoirleach, Catherine Fitzgerald underlined the top class facility the new library would be.
County Librarian, Bernie Foran also thanked the Minister.
The contractors are Frank Murray Construction and the design for the new building is by Portlaoise architects McCarthy O'Hora.