Service is a ‘central part’ of the community

Robin and Jenny Swann, seen here with daughter Freya, who are leading the campaign to prevent the closure of Kells & Connor Library.
Robin and Jenny Swann, seen here with daughter Freya, who are leading the campaign to prevent the closure of Kells & Connor Library.

A CO Antrim mother-of-one has voiced her regret at the proposed closure of Kells and Connor library.

Jenny Swann insisted the long-standing facility is an integral part of the local community and will leave a void in people’s lives, if it is forced to close its doors.

Over 150 people packed the village’s community centre earlier this month to make known their objections to senior library personnel.

Mrs Swann, 31, takes her young daughter to a weekly story time session ran by the local librarian.

“My daughter Freya is five-and-a-half-months-old. She is obviously not going to be into stories at this stage but she likes going to see all the other children and it keeps her entertained,” she said.

As well as people of all ages availing of newspapers, internet access and photocopying services, the Kells woman maintained that there was also an important social aspect to visiting the village library.

“You meet different people and it encourages people to get out of the house. You nearly always see a friendly face and it is somewhere to go that doesn’t cost anything.”

Mrs Swann said she did not expect borrowers to travel elsewhere for a similar service.

“Our next closest library is Ballymena and it would not be as easy, even with public transport, to get to there. Even if you are driving there are no parking facilities near it. It will cost money to get there whereas we can walk to the library in Kells.”

Although a mobile library service has been mooted as an alternative, the young mother also dismissed its feasibility.

“If someone was disabled they would find it hard to access it. Standing in the rain waiting for a library van to come, that has maybe been delayed, is not viable and it would not offer the same facilities that the library does.”

Mrs Swann said the large attendance at the recent public meeting served to show the “strength of feeling” in the local area.

“It would a huge blow if [the library] went. There is very little else in the village apart from the community centre.

“The library is a central part of the community and provides an essential service.”

DUP MLA Paul Frew, who is lobbying Libraries NI on the matter, praised the united opposition of locals to the proposed closure.

He said: “I am remaining positive in this campaign and I think the community association should remain positive and hopefully the end result will be that the Kells and Connor library stays open.”