The Booksellers Association of Ireland has launched a manifesto calling for the Irish government to reconsider its controversial national library tender scheme due to commence in September.
The Irish government's cost-cutting strategy to centralise library supply in Ireland, with "One Blanket National Tender" for book stock, was communicated at the end of 2013 in a document called "Opportunities For All: A Strategy For Public Libraries 2013–2017”, The Bookseller reported in January 2014.
When the plans were first announced, the late European Booksellers Federation president John McNamee warned that up to 100 booksellers could lose their jobs.
Many of Ireland’s independent bookshops rely on supplying local libraries, with some companies specialising in library supply exclusively, he said at the time, urging government to consider “the potential impact”.
While Irish booksellers“recognise[d] the economic rationale behind the original decision”, the BA in Ireland has argued this was in fact "a counter-productive move which will result in serious economic damage to small bookshops and specialist Irish library suppliers”.
The manifesto said centralising library supply in Ireland would "damage" the range of Irish published material available in Irish libraries - especially if the award is given to a UK or US company.
Frank Kelly, chairman of the Irish Booksellers Association, advocated "a sustainable approach to the procurement of library books that recognises the importance of libraries within local communities”, calling for the awarding of the new national tender to be “delayed” and the future tenders for library supply be “regionalised”.
He said: "It really is vital that the government should properly value the cultural importance of books, bookshops and reading to the Irish economy and the Irish cultural landscape.
"The library supply sector in Ireland contributes in no small way to the selection of best book stock, efficient delivery of special titles and the promotion of Irish publishing for the public libraries. The issue of government procurement is critical to the future viability of this sector, which is a significant employer to local communities, in cities and towns around Ireland; Leixlip, Sligo, Dublin and Limerick.
"Accordingly, we strongly support a sustainable approach to the procurement of library books that recognises the importance of libraries within local communities."
The manifesto to all senators and government ministers.