An historic library which is a “very strong part of our heritage” in Armagh should remain in the city.
That’s the view of the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s economic development and regeneration committee as it approved the Council’s official response to a consultation on the future of Armagh’s Irish and Local Studies Library (ILS).
The letter explains that Council “is of the strong opinion that the collection that ILS holds should remain intact and that it should remain in Armagh”.
The letter also makes clear that Council is committed to maintaining a meaningful and positive dialogue with Libraries NI in order to explore “creative solutions for the medium term”.
This, the Council hopes, will see the collection retained in Armagh until a long term solution can be found within the city.
SDLP group leader, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon proposed the approval of the response and urged Council officers to maintain the channels of discussion with Libraries NI.
“It is imperative we keep engagement open in the time ahead,” said Councillor O’Hanlon.
“I think it is quite clear there is cross party support for the ILS to remain in Armagh and this is a very strong message that it must stay.
“The library is a very strong part of our heritage and education and links in with the other facilities in the city.
“I want to thank officers for the work they have put into this response and I am happy enough to propose it.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Sam Nicholson said he would second the proposal to approve this response and said it was vital the service is retained.
“Armagh is the City of Saints and Scholar, we lose this at the detriment of our cultural offering,” warned Councillor Nicholson.
“It is vital we do what we can to keep it and I want to thank officers for their efforts.”
Councillor Nicholson’s party colleague, UUP group leader, Alderman Jim Speers said the engagement with Libraries NI was encouraging.
“Following these discussions I believe the door was opened for Council to try and work with them for the development of what we want to do,” said Alderman Speers.
“We can’t drop the ball now and the engagement is absolutely essential. It is vital we follow this up in a direct and positive way.
“From the meeting, I took away a sense there was a willingness to work with us and I hope this letter and this meeting can act as a meaningful first step to bring this to fruition.
“I also want to thank officers for their efforts thus far.”
Councillor Garath Keating first made the meeting aware he was a member of Libraries NI and said he was in agreement with the sentiments expressed throughout the meeting.
“It is important to keep the dialogue going and we should keep it going even after the consultation response has gone in,” he said.