Site found for Killyleagh library to be relocated

Site found for Killyleagh library to be relocated

11 September 2011 - by CIARA COLHOUN

PLANS for a new home for Killyleagh Library have been unveiled for the first time.

Architect’s impressions published by the Down Recorder today show details of plans to relocate the library to a two-storey facility on the site of a disused shop at Irish Street.

It is hoped the new library will be developed following the successful conclusion of negotiations between the site owner and Libraries NI.

Behind the scenes negotiations have been underway between the business man and library officials for some time and it is understood a deal may soon be struck.

These plans are central to the future of the library, which Libraries NI has agreed to maintain only if an alternative location can be found before the end of the financial year.

Killyleagh councillor William Walker is delighted by news of the potential development opportunity, which he said was made possible after members of the DUP introduced the local developer to Libraries NI.

He said while attention was now focussed on the development opportunity local people must continue to support the existing facility.

“There is still work to be done to secure Killyleagh Library’s future,” he said.

“This is not just in terms of developing a sustainable plan or securing improved accommodation, but also in respect of maintaining membership and borrowing.

“The Killyleagh community has responded positively to the threat to their library and now needs to maintain this interest.”

Mr. Walker also issued his congratulations to members of the Save Killyleagh Library Campaign and Friends of the Library Killyleagh (FOLK) for driving the campaign to secure its future.

“I would like to congratulate them on the excellent work they have put into this campaign and encourage members of the public to continue to support these efforts,” he said.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon said he too was delighted with news of advanced negotiations regarding the library’s relocation.

“Since Libraries NI included Killyleagh Library on its list of 10 rural libraries that it was considering for closure, I have worked tirelessly alongside colleagues to make the case for the retention of a library in Killyleagh,” he said.

“We have discussed the issues directly with Libraries NI’s chief executive Irene Knox on several occasions, arguing that an isolated and disadvantaged community like Killyleagh simply could not be without its library.

“Whilst it is early days, I am confident that the decision of Libraries NI will allow this option to be explored to its fullest extent. I remain hopeful for the future of Killyleagh Library and will continue to do all within my power to save Killyleagh Library.”

Strangford Assemblyman Simon Hamilton MLA also paid tribute to the dedication of the Save Killyleagh Library campaign.

“I remember meeting in the Bridge Centre with about 20 others when the Save Killyleagh Library campaign was kick-started,” he said.

“From that night on, the dedication of those behind the campaign has been extremely impressive.”

A public meeting will be held in Killyleagh on November 16 to rally support for the library’s potential relocation and to ensure the campaign maintains momentum. It is also hoped to create a not-for-profit company from FOLK to facilitate the library’s move.

The meeting will be hosted by FOLK and will be held in St. Mary’s Hall at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome.

n Turn to pages 40-41 for coverage of a  major party to celebrate the success of the library campaign.