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Balbriggan library infomatique via Flickr/Creative Commons

Protests at plan to turn 109-year-old library into dole office

Residents of the Dublin suburb of Balbriggan say plans to move the town’s Carnegie library will be a massive blow to the area.

RESIDENTS OF A Dublin suburb have reacted angrily to plans to turn a 109-year-old library in the town into a social welfare office.

More than 250 people attended a meeting in Balbriggan in north county Dublin on Wednesday night to stop Fingal County Council from going ahead with its plan to move the library from the town’s main street.

People who attended the event say the town, which has seen a population explosion in the past decade, has been neglected when it comes to facilities and moving the library be another major blow.

“I don’t think Fingal County Council realises that people are emotionally involved in this and will fight to the bitter end,” said Brigid Dervan, who began the campaign to stop the library from being moved after seeing details about it on Facebook.

The move is happening as a result of the OPW’s plan to put INTREO offices in parts of the country – including Balbriggan – to help the long-term unemployed. The office will replace the library, which will move to another building in the town.

Dervan described the plan to move the library from the redbrick building as ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’.

“We have already lost an awful lot of businesses from our main street with the economic downturn,” she told “When you look down the main street, the side where the library building is looks lovely, but the other side is boarded up buildings and closed shops”.

“For the Council to take away the library, which is  used constantly by schoolkids and the elderly, by by some people to go and keep warm or people who don’t have computers, it’s just not right,” she said.

More than 1,600 people have so far signed a petition to stop the library from being moved to another location in the town while almost one thousand have joined a Facebook page set up for the campaign. A committee has been set up based on volunteers who came forward at Wednesday’s meeting, with volunteers saying they will do whatever it takes to keep the library.

Current plans will see the library moved from the main street by the end of this year. Fingal County Council has said that despite the protests, the move will be beneficial for the town. Acting County Manager Peter Caulfield said the new location will mean a larger library and better facilities.

“The current proposal gives us a renewed opportunity to provide a bigger public library along with a museum in the Gallen’s Mill building,” he said.

The library is one of around 66 which were built in Ireland due to a grant from American millionaire and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. More than 2,500 libraries were built around the world with money donated by the businessman between 1883 and 1929.

A photoshoot to highlight the campaign  is being held outside the library at 12 noon today.

Read: 100 years of reading at Rathmines library >

Read: 13 of the hardest things about being a book lover >

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