Tuesday 20 March 2018 11:10:43 PM

Save Killyleagh Library Campaign Gathers Momentum
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THE Killyleagh Library campaign has continued keep up the pressure on LIbraries NI following the announcement that the Killyleagh library could close after a public consultation. After a well-attended public meeting last week in the Bridge Centre, save Killyleagh Chairman, author Clive Scoular, accompanied a group of local school children to the Libraries NI headquarters to hand in 387 letters of support from  local schools for the library.

“The visit to meet Libraries NI Chief Executive Irene Knox was to hand over the wonderfully colourful folder enclosing 387 letters written by Killyleagh children appealing to Mrs Knox not to close Killyleagh library. There is huge support for us in Killyleagh,” said Clive Scoular.

The Killyleagh delegation was made up by four young lads, Glenn and Zak from St Mary’s Primary School and Robert and Michael from Killyleagh Primary School and Ms Lesley Spence, Head Teacher at Killyleagh Primary, Joanne McCrum, group member with chairman Clive Scoular from the Save Killyleagh Library campaign.

“When handing over the letters, Michael informed Mrs Knox that a great deal of concern has been expressed by all his friends and that he hoped the library would be saved. And Zak added, by encouraging – even politely insisting – that she read all of the letters. In response Mrs Knox thanked the young men for coming and giving her the letters and promised to read as many as possible. I appreciate that Mrs Knox and her colleagues took  time to meet the pupils and they  asked that this important folder be returned for the Killyleagh archives afterwards when the decision was made to retain the village’s cherished library.”

Stating their case. Clive Scoular with Killyleagh pupils at Libraries NI headquarters.

Clive Scoular added, “The next event in the campaign is a party on Saturday 19th February from 11 am onwards in the old flower shop near the library when the youngsters will be enjoy all sorts of activities and their parents encouraged to complete one of the questionnaires required by Libraries NI. The ‘Big Borrow’, when Killyleagh people will queue at the library to take out as many books as possible, will take place on Friday 25th February at 10.30 am. It is hoped that the event will be televised.

“But the most important date is Monday 28th February in the Bridge Centre. That is the crucial meeting when we hear what Mrs Knox has to say,” added Mr Scoular.

Political Support Solid

All local politicians have supported the save Killyleagh Campaign. Last Saturday, SDLP Ards Borough Councillor and Strangford Assembly candidate Joe Boyle had a walkabout tour in Killyeagh and has vowed to support the members and people of Killyleagh in their quest to retain their library facility. He said, “On visiting Killyleagh I met with members of the community who expressed their fears of loosing their library with their nearest facility being earmarked as being located in Downpatrick which in some cases involves a minimum twelve mile round trip.

“This in itself would virtually make it impossible for people to access this facility for many reasons and would create a great level of inconvenience.  I am aware that the facility is in need of some modernisation including some alternations for the disabled, and that there is a costing factor with the retention of such a facility but I believe that the interest and usage of the facility greatly outweighs the arguments  of these costs and should not be used as reasons for denying the good people of Killyleagh with such an important facility.

“These facilities have proven to be very popular in recent years with everyone of all age categories within the community and to know the costings of everything sometimes clouds the reality of knowing the value of nothing.  The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure ( DCAL ) of which within the Minister Nelson Mc Causland has the overall responsibility for our libraries takes great pride in professing that DCAL’s vision for the public library service is: ‘A flexible and responsive library service which provides a dynamic focal point in the community and assists people to fulfil their potential’.

“It is therefore ironic that the current proposal concerning the future of Killyleagh library goes against everything that the Minister Nelson Mc Causland and his department proposes to stand for”.