Unmanned libraries on cards for Co Cork

Staffless libraries could soon be introduced in Cork county, despite reservations by some elected representatives.

Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey said he was in favour of the development, noting it would lead to longer opening hours and provide access to people who normally would not be able to avail of the services.

The ‘My Open Library’ initiative allow library members aged over 16 to access unmanned libraries from 8am-10pm, every day including weekends.

They can borrow and returning items, use the internet via library PCs or wifi using their own devices, undertake browsing, printing and photocopying.

They gain access to a library through an automated system, using their membership card and an authorised pin number.

Children will be able to use the service if accompanied by a registered adult.

The council would have to install entrance control software and new security monitoring systems.

Council officials said the service has been operating very successfully for almost two years in Banagher and Tullamore libraries in Co Offaly, and Tubbercurry in Co Sligo.

They said the feedback from library members at the three libraries had been extremely positive, with users commenting the library was now more accessible for commuters, students and families.

Public use was up considerably in the evenings in the 35 to 55 age group while the number of items being borrowed had also increased.

Cllr Michael “Frick” Murphy said he was very concerned about such a development as in Britain it had led to the closure of 5,000 libraries and 8,000 staff were made redundant.

Cllr Eoghan Jeffers maintained it would eventually lead to a reduction in the working hours of library employees. 

“There is disdain for it in the UK,” he said.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn said he was also against the move.

Mr Lucey, however, said there would be no reduction in staff working hours.


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