Dáil Éireann - Volume 456 - 27 September, 1995

Written Answers. - Public Library Service.

111. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment the views, if any, he has on the importance of the public library service; the further views, if any, he has on any deficiencies in the service. [10065/95]

120. Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment the proposals, if any, he has to reverse the effect of cutbacks in the library services during the past decade; the further proposals, if any, he has to develop the service in local communities. [9900/95]

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 120 together.

[135] The operation and funding of the library service is a matter for the individual local authorities concerned. However, my Department operates a scheme to fund certain capital works in the library sector. Over the last ten years, expenditure under this scheme has amounted to some £20 million. This includes a once-off allocation of almost £2 million in 1994 for the replenishment of bookstock nationwide. £3 million has been allocated for capital expenditure on library projects in 1995.

While I regard this library service as an important one, it would not be appropriate for me to give directions to local authorities as to the priority which should be given to it, relative to other local services, in the allocation of staffing, financial and other resources. Local authorities will have an opportunity to address such issues in preparing library development programmes under the Local Government Act, 1994. My Department has recently issued guidelines to local authorities to assist them in the preparation of these programmes.