Library staff in Kilkenny and Carlow have balloted in favour of industrial action over plans to amalgamate the service between the two counties.
Their trade union, Impact, says the 'shared services' proposal would see see libraries in both counties managed by one local authority, threatening service provision. The union says the merger would create an 'expertise gap', ultimately leading to reduced library services to the public.
The plans were drawn up by a Dublin-based planning group, which Impact says has failed to produce a cost-benefit analysis of its proposals. The union also says that neither staff nor local elected representatives have been properly consulted.
Forty-one staff — 26 of whom are in Kilkenny — were balloted across the library services. They voted in favour of industrial action by a margin of 84%.
Impact official Shay Clinton described it is 'a last resort', which shows the depth of staff's concern.
“We can’t allow our thriving library system to be to be gutted on foot of a remote number-crunching exercise, which doesn’t reflect local needs or the realities of community life,” he said.
There are eight library branches in Kilkenny, and four in Carlow. The use of libraries, including internet provision, is on the rise here.
In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, over 12,000 people joined libraries in Kilkenny, and there were over 314,000 visits made to them.