PUBLIC access to libraries across County Kildare could be restricted if planned changes to the service go ahead just before the end of the month.
The Leader understands that while some additional community services are to be provided, it could mean that the libraries will be closed for up to half a day, every day of the week.
The affected libraries are situated in the main towns - Naas, Newbridge, Athy, Kildare town, Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth.
These are open every day of the week, but the proposal could mean that there will be no access for members of the public in the mornings. The Athy facility is also set to close on Saturdays.
The Leader understands that late opening hours at individual libraries are not affected.
“A meeting took place between staff and senior management within Kildare County Council. It was pointed out that a number of staff are due to retire at the end of 2010 and these will not be replaced because of an embargo on the recruitment of staff to the public service. But this is 2011 and it’s a bit of shock that this is happening now,” said a source.
The Kildare branch of Impact, which represents library staff, confirmed it has been involved in discussions with KCC concerning the provision of library services.
The source added: “It means that a substantial number of (book) borrowers who use the libraries before lunchtime will not be able to do so after September 28 when the new hours come into force.
“The libraries is used by substantial numbers of people including senior citizens, unemployed people, and stay at home parents for example in the morning and they will not have the same access.”
A statement issued yesterday by Kildare Library Service (September 12) referred to a new schedule of opening hours but these were not listed.
It added that “scheduled time” is being introduced to allow the service to maximise the use of the libraries by all the community.
The statement does not say that the public will be excluded from the libraries during these periods but staff fear that this is what will happen.