Because of the current political discussions I was unable to get to the offical opening of the newly refurbished library in Newtownstewart, county Tyrone. The refurbishment took almost a year and the total cost was £535,000.
The library opened in its present location on Main Street in 1979 and the building is a former National School, which was constructed in 1860. It is a Grade B listed building and retains many of the original features of the 1860 school. This is a good example of the continuing use of what is an important historic building.
A modern library must meet the needs of people in the 21st century and it should offer a flexible and responsive service. There is no doubt that a library should also provide a vibrant and dynamic focal point in the community. It should also be a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can be educated and entertained. A library should invite users to be enquiring and imaginative, to expand their knowledge and explore their creativity. That is what we should expect and I know that is what will be delivered.
Libraries NI, the arms-length body that runs our library service, has been in existence now for a year under the chairmanship of Dr David Elliott and the chief executive is Irene Knox.