Construction on a new library for Wicklow town will commence in September or October and should be complete and open to the public by the summer of 2019.
The library will be located in the old Ulster Bank premises on the Upper Mall, which was purchased by Wicklow County Council last year. The whole cost of the project, including acquisition costs and renovation costs, will reach an estimated €3 million.
Director of Services for Community, Cultural and Social Development, Michael Nicholson gave a presentation on plans for the new library at Monday's meeting of Wicklow County Council.
The building has six stories, two of which are below ground. Floor 0 will contain a local studies area and deliveries will also be made to this floor.
Floor 1 will contain the archives section for the whole county and the County Archivist will be situated there permanently. The floor will be climate controlled because it will contain such a volume of vintage documentation, some dating back to the 1700s.
Floor 2 will include a children's library room with over 4,500 books. The adult library will be located on the third floor and will contain over 10,000 books. Twenty-five IT stations will be situated in the IT room on floor 4, while an exhibition and meeting room will be included on floor 5.
Wicklow Library will be the first library in the country to provide adult changing facilities following consultation with the Disability Federation of Ireland.
Councillors at Monday's meeting passed a Part 8 under the Planning and Development Regulations allowing for the building's change of use from a bank.
The front of the property will be reset so as to give more footpath room to pedestrians and users of the library.
Cllr Gail Dunne said: 'A new library for the capital town will be a brilliant development. I welcome to resetting at the front because of the amount of cars and buses going past. It's in an ideal area with two schools in close proximity. It will also bring some life back to that part of town.'
Cllr Shay Cullen described the plans as highly important to Wicklow Municipal District.
He said: 'It's a magnificent building. I compliment Michael Nicholson and the County Librarian Brendan Martin on their foresight in purchasing this building. That area of town is in need of support in order to get people to use that part of the town more frequently. The library will also be complimented by the recent reopening of the town hall.'
Cllr John Snell said all six elected members of the Wicklow District were fully supportive of the project. 'It should help bring some new life to the Upper Mall area. I also have to commend the Chief Executive for helping to bring life back to Market Square by reopening the town hall.'
He also joked: 'Maybe if any leftover money is found in any of the safes in the old bank it could be put into the refurbishment of Wicklow Courthouse.'
Cllr Irene Winters said: 'It will make a huge difference to the town. Moving the archives to the new library is also a great idea. I think there is a perception that they are difficult to access when they are in the county buildings.'
Cllr Mary Kavanagh said the planned development was already creating plenty of excitement.
'It's a cutting-edge and modern building. When people get the details I think they will be counting down the days until it opens.'
Cllr Daire Nolan said: 'It will be a beautiful, modern facility. It will revitalise any area which has suffered greatly. It will be an amazing boost for the town and hopefully will be well utilized by the public.'