Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, Senator Fintan Warfield has today announced a ‘Stop Staffless Libraries’ campaign, aiming to stop the use of staffless hours in public libraries.

Senator Warfield said:

“Staffless libraries devalue and threaten the place of our libraries as social, cultural, educational and economic focal points. Few other public spaces can boast such a diversity of service.

“Staffless libraries will erode the very service they provide and will not facilitate greater access to programming, classes, exhibits, or workshops.

“They may also signal further staff reductions in the cultural sphere.

“The fightback against staffless hours has begun, and numerous local authorities have rejected the pilot scheme.

“We are calling on the public to contact their political representatives and urge them to protect our local services.

“The context of this campaign has been the threatened closure of a number of libraries, and reduced local authority funding in Budget 2017, amounting to a 7% cut of €22 million.

“Government are also planning a blanket, state-wide tender for the supply of literature and stock to public libraries. The result will negatively impact small and medium sized businesses and bookshops that specialise in specific genres, including fiction and non-fiction, and children’s books.

“Public procurement should seek to sustain and develop local communities and where possible and practical, should be an achievable reality for small business, not a threat to their existence.

“Libraries provide a beacon of local knowledge and information. Depending on the tender itself, be it national or international, we risk limiting the quality of local content available in Irish libraries.

“Across the arts, it is critical that we tell our own stories, be they on screen, stage or in print.

“Join with us in opposing the further downgrade of local services.”