Cork Polish library faces closure without financial support

Appeal for funds as lockdowns slash the non-profit organisation's income
Cork Polish library faces closure without financial support

Tomasz Trela, a board member of the ABC [art, books, culture] EduLibrary in Cork for which there is a fundraising campaign, pictured outside the ABC EduLibrary. Picture Denis Minihane.

A Cork library with the largest collection of Polish books in Ireland is having to fundraise for its survival.

ABC EduLibrary in Cork City has appealed for funding from the Polish Embassy in Ireland and Cork City Council after lockdowns have slashed the non-profit organisation's income for the year.

“It’s been very tough on the library,” said Tomasz Trela, a library board member and University College Cork (UCC) student.

Cultural centre

A regular meeting place for Cork’s Polish community, the library and cultural centre has not been able to hold events or classes for its members. This has meant funding for cultural events from the Polish Embassy has not been accessible.

Struggling to make their rent costs, Mr Trela said the library decided to appeal for crowdfunding as a last resort.

“We decided it’s the only way to keep the library alive and not completely disappear, otherwise we will not be able to pay for the rent at all because there has been no income at all for the last year,” he said.

“It’s going ok, it’s still a lot of money we need but we appreciate every help we can get, every euro counts.”

Social media crowdfunds

Last year the library held two other social media crowdfunds that returned enough donations to keep the library open.

Alicja Zajaczkowska, director of the library, started the collection when she arrived in Ireland in 2015 with her own private collection.

First opened in July 2016 on Gould Street in Cork City, the library now stocks a whole range of genres from literature, science, and history with over 10,000 books in the Polish language.

ABC EduLibrary serves not just the country's largest immigrant community but also offers classes and events about Polish culture.

“It’s really not just for Polish people, there are a lot of Irish people married to Polish people as well who want to learn more about Polish culture, history, and literature,” said Mr Trela.

He added other Eastern European nationalities living in Cork City like to attend the library too.

As well as providing wellbeing and support groups, the library offered English language classes for older generations of Polish people and offered opportunities for them to socialise.

Cork City councillor Shane O’Callaghan has provided some ward funding along with other councillors and introduced a motion at last week’s council meeting to give emergency funding to the library. 

"There are over 12,000 Polish people living in Cork and the ABC Edu library is the largest publicly available Polish library in the country [...] and it's something we should be proud of in Cork. 

"It is very much in keeping with Cork's reputation as an open cosmopolitan city, which is why I think it would be a terrible shame if it had to close now because it is no longer able to fundraise because of Covid-19. 

"Particularly in the circumstances when the amount of money involved is relatively small in the grand scheme of things, I think they are seeking somewhere in the region a sum of €5,000," said Mr O'Callaghan.  

Contributions can be made at the library's online gofundme fundraiser.

• Visit the centre's website at abcedulibrary.ie

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