CLARE County Council has announced the appointment of consultants for the design and delivery of a new €8.6 million county library in Ennis.
The project will see a new library building developed at the site of the existing Glór facility, replacing the current De Valera Library.
A full design team has now been put in place to progress the design and planning phases of the new build project and the council says contractors could be on-site early next year, subject to the planning process being negotiated.
Some months ago, the council received a €3m capital grant towards the cost of the project from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, while €1m in EU funding came from the Southern Regional Assembly’s Operational Programme 2014-2020. In February, Clare County Council voted to take on a loan to fund the remaining €4.6m.
Earlier this year, a county library spokesperson said it was likely the new facility would be an “open library”, a Scandinavian concept, with services available to the public seven days a week. While staff would still work similar hours to currently, the public would be able to access it at times when staff are not there, with everything being monitored by CCTV.
The current De Valera Library already has self-service facilities and they would be extended in the new building.
Figures provided at last week’s county council meeting showed that the existing Ennis library had 5,355 members last year, while there were 144,596 loans and 19,368 internet sessions.
Councillor James Breen, cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said, “The development of a new county library facility has long been sought after by past and present members of the council, as well as by the local community. Clare County Library is one of our most valuable resources and it is appropriate, therefore, that it is provided with a modern facility befitting its status from which to continue to deliver a vitally important service to the people of Clare.”
Ger Dollard, interim chief executive of Clare County Council, said the proposed development “will strengthen Clare’s reputation as a cultural centre, as well as support economic and social activity in Ennis”.
Clare county librarian, Helen Walsh commented, “Ireland has seen some ambitious library buildings developed in the last decade and some outstanding and beautiful architectural structures have been achieved as a result. It is envisioned that the new county library will be one of these buildings, combining technologically-advanced services, whilst keeping the customer at the heart of service delivery. It truly will be a library for the 21st century.”
The architect-led design team appointed on Wednesday comprises Keith Williams Architects Ltd (architects), Ove Arup and Partners Ireland Ltd T/A Arup (Civil and Structural), Axiseng M and E Ltd AxisEng (Mechanical and electrical), AECOM Professional Services (Quantity Surveying Services) and OLM Consultancy (PSDP).
“This development will provide a model of best practice and will include measures to maximise the sustainability of the scheme for the county,” said Ruth Hurley, senior executive architect with Clare County Council.
“It is anticipated that the building design will provide a contemporary response to the modern library, whilst remaining user-friendly, energy-efficient and adaptable for future changes in use.”
By Owen Ryan