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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors give the go-ahead for staffless library

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THE ‘Open Library’ project – providing access to a staffless facility outside normal office hours – is to be trialled in the city for a one-year period.

City councillors gave the go-ahead for the pilot project after hearing presentations from Galway County Librarian, Peter Rabbitte and Offaly County Librarian, Mary Stewart.

Councillors voted in favour of a proposal tabled by Cllr. Pearce Flannery that the ‘Open Library’ concept be trialled at one of the city’s three libraries [Westside, Hynes Building, Ballybane] at a future date.

Cllr Flannery said that there had been a lot of negative publicity about what was essentially a good news story for library users in terms of providing extra accessibility during oout-of-office-hours, including the weekends.

“This will increase opening hours and accessibility while we have a guarantee that there won’t be any reductions in staffing levels,” said Cllr Flannery.

He also rejected any concerns that the non-staffed facility could attract anti-social or that security issues could arise. “Why should a few little pups be allowed to stop a service like this going ahead,” said Cllr. Flannery.

Galway County Librarian, Peter Rabbitte, in a presentation to councillors, said that where the ‘My Open Library’ units were introduced, there had been no reductions in staff numbers while usage of the service had increased.

Offaly Librarian, Mary Stewart, said that their two open libraries at Tullamore and Banagher now each offered total access hours per week of 98.

The extra hours were operated through a membership scheme, card entry, with CCTV coverage providing security. Under-16s could only use the service if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“We have a lot of students commuting from Offaly to Dublin and they make great use of the after-hours service. Overall the feedback to the ‘Open Library’ has been very, very positive,” said Mary Stewart.

However, a number of city councillors expressed concerns about the whole concept of a staffless library with Cllr. Ollie Crowe saying that librarians were ‘a pivotal part of the library service’.

Cllr Mike Cubbard said that he didn’t want the library service in the city to be turned into a ‘faceless and staffless one’.

Cllr Mairead Farrell said that while everyone wanted to see longer opening hours, the libraries needed to be staffed.

Cllr Colette Connolly said that with the high percentages of people who had literacy and numeracy difficulties – as well as those who were uncomfortable using technology – there was an obvious need for the service to be people based. “Human interaction is important,” she said.

However, Fine Gael councillor, John Walsh, said that ‘the myth had now been put to bed’ about any jobs being lost. “This is a very positive development for all library users that will improve existing services and opening hours,” he said.

Cllr. Padraig Conneely said that the proposal had been at the centre of a lot of mis-information when first mooted. “Sometimes we’re very much afraid of change – let’s give it a try and see how we get on,” said Cllr Conneely.

Eventually, councillors voted to give the go-ahead to a one year pilot scheme at one of the city’s three libraries (to be selected later) but no timescale for its implementation was set out.

Galway County Library have plans well advanced for the Open Library service to be rolled out at its branches in Ballinasloe and Oranmore over the coming months.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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