Cork City Council officials fear the damage caused to Douglas library following the recent shopping centre fire is worse than first expected, with over 40,000 books and other items covered in soot from the blaze.
The local authority is working on establishing a replacement service for the library, but staff do not yet know the extent of the damage to computers and other electronic equipment in the library.
“The damage to the Library is serious, perhaps more serious than we originally thought,” Liam Ronayne, City Librarian, told the Irish Examiner.
“The contents are covered in a film of soot throughout the Library, worse in the northern side of the building nearer the car park. All of the stock, over 40,000 items, has been covered in soot, both along the edges and inside the individual books.
“The delay in gaining access means that it would be more difficult to try and remedy the situation now after 10 days,” he said.
“It is not possible to assess the damage to the equipment as these items cannot be tested with the power turned off. At the very least the soot has worked its way into the computers, copiers, and other pieces of equipment,” he said.
The library’s location on the first floor of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre puts it in close proximity to where the blaze started on August 31, meaning the facility has also suffered damage from the thousands of litres of water poured into the car park to put out the fire.
“There is water damage along the northern side of the premises, quite extensive in parts,” Mr Ronayne said.
Fortunately Mr Ronayne said there are no items of high value in Douglas Library, and that all stock was for borrowing by local patrons meaning there are no irreplaceable items there.
“The Chief Executive Ann Doherty has given a commitment to have a replacement service as soon as is physically possible, and this is what we are working towards,” he said.
Meanwhile, anchor tenant Tesco declined to comment on local speculation that staff at the supermarket had been told that it was not expected to reopen until May 2020.
A spokesperson for Tesco said timelines for reopening were a matter for the management of the shopping centre.
“As anchor tenant in the Village Shopping Centre, we are committed to our presence there and we will continue to work closely with the management of the centre as we all work together to get back on our feet,” the spokesperson said.
Cork City Council has granted an hour free parking in Douglas in an attempt to offset the decline in footfall as a result of the shopping centre’s closure. The promotion runs from Monday to Saturday, and parking is free all day Sunday.