History society backs Ballywaltrim Library
Wicklow Historical Society have added their support to calls for the retention of the Local Studies section of Ballywaltrim Library which closed last Monday.
The society was formed in Wicklow town in 1988 and just published its 27th historical journey in June. Honorary Secretary, Stan J. O'Reilly has been a member of the society since it first formed and believes the closure of the local studies section will severely impact on the research required for each journal published by the group.
'Our members would make use of this service on a weekly basis for various projects and now this has been brought to an end. How can we as a society promote our local heritage when our access to this facility is now ended? The same applies to the research and preparation required by any individual, group or organisation wishing to use the local studies section. No group, body, club, organisation or individual will be able to carry out any kind of historical research in the County of Wicklow with this closure. Several books under research are now effectively stopped. I am doing up a history of St. Patrick's Pipe Band from 1944 right up to the present. That now has been effectively stopped in the water.'
The local studies room has been closed due to staffing problems at Wicklow County Library Services which has lost 28 per cent of its staffing numbers since the introduction of the public service staffing embargo in 2009.
However, Stan finds it difficult to understand why the local studies area has been singled out for closure.
'I understand there are problems with staff numbers but I do wonder why this is the one area being targeted for closure. Wicklow County Council are advertising the 'Summer of Heritage' yet they have no problem closing down one of the most important heritage services provided in the county. I really don't know what they are thinking. This closure isn't just impacting on all the historical societies located around the county, it also impacts on the thousands of Wicklow people who purchase our journals each year. There is also a real worry that once the local studies room is closed it will never be re-opened again.'
Historians spread out across the whole county have contacted local TDs and councillors in order to highlight their concerns over the closure. A Facebook page , Save County Wicklow Local Studies Services, has also been established in protest at the closure.