Dungiven’s old library was so tiny that if a dozen people were inside it seemed packed, but with the opening of a new £1.27 million facility a “whole new chapter” has opened.
The new state-of-the-art building welcomed the public last October, but Culture, Arts and Lesiure Minister, Nelson McCausland made it official on Friday.
Since October, the library has attracted 360 new borrowers and more than 1,000 computer sessions have been delivered.
“It’s a really impressive library and a wonderful facility for the people of Dungiven and surrounding area. It will be an encouragement for people to come in and use the library,” Mr. McCausland told the ‘Journal’.
“A modern library must meet the needs of the 21st century and should offer a flexible and responsive service. It should provide a vibrant, dynamic focal point in the community, but most importantly, it must assist and encourage people in fulfilling their potential. I am proud to say that Dungiven Library fits this bill.”
Dr David Elliott, Libraries NI Chairperson, said: “Libraries provide a central hub for learning, information, culture, reading and heritage and since opening its doors in October, Dungiven Library has been holding a range of events to support these themes. I know that the people of Dungiven will make tremendous use of this new facility and that it will play a valuable role in the community.”
Libraries NI board member, Anne Brolly said the new facility “has gone beyond all our expectations”.
“This library is the hub of Dungiven and we want to build on this. It’s a very special day and the next special day will be when we get a piece of public art for the front of the building. That’s the next project,” said Mrs. Brolly.
Branch manager Bernadette McCloskey said since the library opened it has been “busy, busy, busy”.
“It’s really just a hive of activity and the new premises are so spacious we can accommodate a lot of people and no-one feels too cramped or busy. People really enjoy the library. It’s such a difference from down the street. We can offer so much more now such as class visits, Rythym and Rhyme, computer sessions and we have room to display and promote certain areas of the stock and have special themed days. It’s just a complete new chapter.”
MP Gregory Campbell was also impressed with the library.
“It’s a great facility in Dungiven and very centrally located and all the people involved in it tell me how the useage has increased fantastically so it’s a testament that if you put the money and resources in people will respond. It’s a great facility and a red letter day for Dungiven.”
Limavady councillors said it was a proud day for the town, including Mayor, SDLP Colr. Michael Carten. He said the people who use the library are “lucky” to have such an excellent facility with “amazing” staff on their doorstep.
“This is just a fantastic building. I wish I would have had something like this when I was growing up. I am delighted to be here today and I wish everyone who uses it and all the staff the very best.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Cathal O’hOisin said: “I’ve been a member of Dungiven library for 40 years plus and this building has a real feel-good factor to it. The fact it is in the centre of the town puts the heart back into Dungiven again. It’s a beautifully designed building and the staff are second to none. They never let you down.”
SDLP Alderman Michael Coyle, a former WELB member and member of the libraries committee, said the day was long awaited for.
“A library in Dungiven is more than a building. It is a way of life. What makes it is not the bricks and mortar but the people. I have been a user since the 1950s and I have seen the progression of library services. We must have now reached a pinnacle with this brillinat building and the capacity for people to use the service.”
Sinead McNicholl from Dungiven said the new library was a great boost for the town.
“I would use the library regularly. The old library was good but this is fabulous.”
Dessie Irwin from Dungiven said the “fantastic” staff in Dugiven made the library what it is.
“The staff are second to none. The old library was great but this is much more optulent. The staff are wonderful. They make the library. This is great for Dungiven.”
Best selling north west author, and Derry Journal reporter, Claire Allan, gave a reading at the opening, sharing her experience of the library as a child.
“My local library when I was growing up in Creggan gave me a passion for reading and obviously writing as well,” she said. “My eyes have been opened that libraries are really at the heart of the community. It’s the one place where people of all ages can come together and share their love of books and the arts and culture and have a bit of craic. Authors love libraries and are vital parts of our career.”