Librarian John leaves quietly after 43 years in the job in Kenmare town


MAYBE it is his 43 years observing and enforcing silence in the Kenmare Library that makes John O'Sullivan such a quiet man. His low, hushed voice as he checks in and out books for the children, gently reminds them that they should be silent. But quiet as he may be, the branch librarian said that he will miss meeting people when he retires at the end of March.

Coming from nearby Kilgarvan, John O'Sullivan has been working in the Kenmare Library since 1942, the year he qualified. At that time, the library was heated by open fires and the librarian had to fetch the turf. He said that the selection of books was much more limited and they were not in as good condition.

He said that the requests system was one of the big changes in the forty odd years, explaining that books can be brought down from Dublin if the Kerry County Library does not have a copy. The county's stock of books is now circulated around the branch libraries, the books are more modern and the selection is better.

The library is in the upstairs section of a slightly neglected-looking old Carnegie building in Kenmare. Was it ever lonely for John working away on his own?

"No, there is always somebody in and out and something to do. The school kids always come in at lunch and after school, doing projects. There are regular readers, people taking two books a week is not unusual".

"He has provided a good service and is highly thought of in the community. We will be very sorry to lose him", Kathleen Browne, the County Librarian said of the Cork educated librarian.

Does John O'Sullivan feel enough is being done to make the most of the library? "Funds as they are, yes. But I would like to see a local history section set up, with large scale maps showing local castles, places of interest and walks. You can only get bits and pieces of Kenmare's history and you won't get the whole thing in one book", he explained.

Kenmare Library is now one of the libraries in the county currently being considered for renovation. The old hall attached to the back of the building, which was built in 1925 and used as a dance hall until the fire authorities closed it down in the early sixties, is now used by the boy scouts and youth club.

As part of the plan the library would be moved downstairs. John O'Sullivan said he hopes this goes ahead, because it would mean more old people would be encouraged to use the library as they would not have to climb the stairs.

Kathleen Browne said that plans are being prepared for moving the library downstairs. She was not able to say when they would be ready or what other uses for the rest of the building might be considered, saying that they were at the planning stages.


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