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Kevin Street Library refurbishment complete

 

Kevin Street Library has reopened five years after works were delayed several times when more damage was uncovered throughout the rebuilding.

Due to the majority of the roof having to be replaced and woodwork needing to be preserved, the work involved was quite delicate. Library assistant Ciarán Hurley said: “Prior to the closure of the library for works, over 50% of the building was inaccessible to the public due to the potential hazards of the long term damage to the building. Now this has been rectified and previously off-limit areas are now open spaces for public use.”

Credit: Lisa Connolly

The planning and design work started in late 2010, by that time two thirds of the library was cordoned off as the glazed roof had become unsafe. The library remained open while some initial repairs were carried out but then closed in 2013 when extensive work commenced. The library was then due to reopen within a year or two, however, as the building was under refurbishment, more rot and damp issues were discovered than had not been anticipated. The decision was taken to then phase the project, so that while solutions were being devised to design problems arising in one area, works would be ongoing in another.

Divisional librarian Paul Fusco said: “In an ideal world each phase would follow the other seamlessly, but again, this didn’t work out and there were periods between contracts where the building lay idle. There were various reasons for this; unforeseen staff changes, builder’s schedules, etc., but during those times I worked with other library staff and with City Architects Division to ensure the quality of the end result would not be compromised.”

Credit: Lisa Connolly

The library has now been completely refitted to allow free WIFI and PC access, including access for the visually impaired. It offers the best aural and visual infrastructure for lectures, talks, and music. There are over a dozen spaces for study for adults and teenagers, as well as ten spaces for children. In addition there is over 20,000 items for lending, including audio books, DVDs, non-fiction, graphic novels and fiction in foreign languages.

 The numbers at the door have remained consistently at 300 – 400 a day, with the occasional peak as high as 500. Hurley said, “Our library mailing list, which we use to update our members of events we host is currently around 300 people, but this is purely because we cannot keep up with the amount of work which we have on our hands!”

Kevin Street Library has been welcomed by the community. Hurley said without fail every person who has entered the library has remarked on the incredible transformation from the previous state of the building. Fusco said “When we reopened there was a young girl who visited the library every day and stayed all day, which is fantastic and exactly what you want to hear but there was a bit of me that was sorry for the years she hadn’t been able to do that. Kevin Street was open for 109 years before it closed, so hopefully there’s at least another 109 in it to make up for the five lost.”

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