TRADE union Impact will seek to get the planned amalgamation of library services in 12 counties – including Cork city and county – reversed at a meeting of the Lansdowne Road Agreement Oversight Group on July 20th.
The move follows an 87% aggregate vote in favour of industrial action by library staff in the affected councils.
In Cork, 142 staff across the city and county library services were balloted this week and just over 84% voted against plans to amalgamate the two.
Impact say that the proposals would see services in the two areas managed by one local authority, threatening the specialised services currently provided to users in urban and rural settings.
Impact’s local government divisional executive committee met on Tuesday and says it will announce details of industrial action plans in the 12 counties if the Local Government Management Association – the national voice of local authority management – fails to give a satisfactory assurances that local councils will keep control of their library services at the oversight group meeting.
Impact says proposals to amalgamate library services threaten local provision as library budgets come under increasing pressure.
Apart from Cork city and county, local authorities affected are Carlow, Cavan, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath.
According to the union, the proposals, drawn up by a Dublin-based planning group, took little account of local needs and failed to include a cost-benefit analysis.
In addition, the planning group did not visit Cork or take account of the different services required within a vast and diverse county with different local community needs in urban, disadvantaged, rural, and isolated areas.
Impact also says no cost-benefit analysis of the proposals has been produced.
Impact official Hilary Kelleher said: ‘Local libraries are vital social hubs in rural and urban communities that have already lost shops, garda stations, post offices and other local amenities. They are centres of social inclusion and, for some, a warm, dry place to read a newspaper or look for a job. In rural communities they are often the only place where internet services can be accessed.
‘There are already many vacant posts in the library services in Cork, which is affecting service delivery and staff morale,’ she said. Impact’s local library representative Liz Fay said library use, including internet provision, was on the increase across all Cork branch libraries.
Meanwhile, the union also reports that significant cost-saving shared service measures are already being implemented nationwide, including a new national library management IT system that will allow library users to easily access services across the country for free, using one card.