Updated: 18/10/16 : 05:46:37
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Sligo seems cosy after 'saving' its library service

By Eugene McGloin

THE NEXT junket out of Sligo should be a cheap outing, fully costed.

Day return tickets on the train with travel extentions to Dun Laoire.

Packed Lunches

Packed lunches will not be needed as the Sligo County Council kitty could and should extend to the usual subsistence.

One change though: The public should get a full written report, presented in public, after this junket.

Chosen topic? The new library in Dun Laoire and the services it offers to the general public.

It would be a shame if having ''saved'' our own library service in Sligo we now left it at that.

Twice in the past decade we have been disappointed on proposals to create a new (showpiece) HQ for the service.

Before it moved into private ownership, the ESB site at the corner of Castle Street and Thomas Street seemed an exciting, if short lived, idea for such a HQ.

It would have put the library in a central, highly visible location; the 'ghosts' of the street would probably have approved of their new neighbours.

Well Resourced

The location would have had a rich context in the (local) world of the 'written word,' the street was home to several newspapers, a cinema and photo studio. 

But library services are about so much more than their physical buildings.

More important is how do we define it, shape it, what 'feel' will our service have for the next forty years.

Opening hours? Who uses it? How aware are tourists of it? What percentage of them use it? 

Hey, five uses of the impersonal 'it' to describe our library service and I'm not the only one who does that either.

How well resourced, in State funding terms, is the local library to respond to tourists?

The same metrics, only moreso, should be applied to how 'locals' have their interface with the service measured.

Is customers' consumerist feedback (a) regularly facilitated and (b) regularly acted upon. 

Let us learn from other counties and from centres of excellence in Ireland.

In the decade I lived there, Dun Laoire always ticked many of those boxes.

Step Outside

My local librarian even made it on-air in an episode of BBC's ''Mastermind.''

Chosen subject? The Clash.....no, not the riots in the book he chased down for me on the (Irish led) Chartist movement in UK politics but The Clash, rock band!

The message it sent was that it was safe to 'step outside' the cosiness of Official Ireland.

It also 'sold' my library service to me.....if I had not already been a customer.

To borrow a phrase from Irish history all but 100 years old -- but the idea is much older -- a library can be a good building block in a university of revolution.