Tá léann agus leabhair air

D’éirigh go han-mhaith le Féile Mhaighe arís i mbliana. Tá ardmholadh tuillte ag Coiste na Féile agus ag na hoibrithe deonacha: cuirtear leis na himeachtaí gach bliain agus déantar iarracht freastal ar an aos óg go háirithe

Eagraítear siúlóid stairiúil dhátheangach mar chuid den Fhéile gach bliain. Ba mhian liom taighde a dhéanamh roimh an tsiúlóid i mbliana agus mar sin de bhuail mé isteach sa Leabharlann Láir i nDoire. Labhair mé le beirt leabharlannaithe agus taobh istigh de chúpla bomaite fuair siad an t-ábhar a bhí de dhíth orm dom.

Tá an tseirbhís sna leabharlanna i nDoire agus in Inis Eoghain thar a bheith maith. Tá na leabharlanna uilig faoi bhrú mar gheall ar an chúlú eacnamaíoch – gearradh siar ar na huaireanta oscailte i nDoire, ach d’ainneoin sin, leanann an fhoireann ar aghaidh, ag cur seirbhís den scoth ar fáil.

Tá na leabharlanna athruithe, dar ndóigh. Ní chluineann tú ‘fuist’ iontu na laethanta seo. Tá siad ag freastal ar éilimh nua. Chomh maith le leabhair, is féidir e-leabhair a fháil, agus is féidir dlúthdhioscaí agus DVD- anna a fháil ar iasacht. Tá ríomhairí sna leabharlanna uilig. Bíonn imeachtaí éagsúla ar siúl iontu: léachtaí, ceolchoirmeacha, taispeántais srl. Tá caife sa Leabharlann Láir agus tagann grúpa comhrá Gaeilge le chéile ansin gach tráthnóna Dé hAoine. Bíonn grúpa súgartha i Leabharlann Sheantalaimh gach Máirt agus bíonn ceol agus scéalaíocht ann do na páistí beaga - dóigh iontach iad a thabhairt isteach sa léitheoireacht.

Freastalaíonn na leabharlanna ar gach aoisghrúpa. Mura bhfuil tú ábalta, nó mura bhfuil tú sásta dul chuig an leabharlann, tiocfaidh an leabharlann chugat: tá leabharlann shoghluaiste thrasteorann ann.

Tá siad ag gearradh siar go trom ar na leabharlanna i Sasana faoi láthair. Caithfimid tacú lenár leabharlanna: seirbhís riachtanach atá ann. Ba chóir méadú a fheiceáil ar úsáid na leabharlann i mbliana i gCathair an Chultúir: tá na leabharlanna ar na gnéithe is tábhachtaí dár gcultúr.

Muff Festival has been an outstanding success this year again. The Festival committee and the voluntary workers deserve the highest praise: more events are put on every year and an effort is made to cater for young people especially.

A bilingual historical walk is organised every year as part of the festival. I wanted to do some research before the walk this year, so I dropped into the Central Library in Derry. I spoke to two librarians and within a couple of minutes they got me the material I needed. The library service in Derry and Inis Eoghain is excellent. All the libraries are under pressure because of the economic recession- opening hours have been cut back in Derry,- but despite that, the staff carry on, providing a first rate service.

Libraries have changed, of course. You don’t hear ‘Quiet!’ these days. They are responding to new demands. As well as books, e-books are available and you can borrow CD’s and DVDs. There are computers in all the libraries. Different events are held in the libraries: lectures, concerts, exhibitions, etc. There is a café in the Central Library, and an Irish conversation group gathers there every Friday afternoon. There is a play group in Shantallow Library every Tuesday with music and storytelling for the children – an excellent introduction to reading. The libraries cater for every age group. If you are not able, or if you are not willing to go to the library, the library will come to you: there is a cross-border mobile library.

They are cutting back severely on libraries in England at present. We must support our own libraries. This is an essential service. We should see an increase in the use of the libraries this year in the City of Culture: libraries are one of the most important aspects of our culture.