TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has hailed the Glucksman Library at University of Limerick as “the most impressive and the most modern of any university library in Ireland”.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at the launch of the Project Ireland 2040 Annual Report which took place in the Glucksman Library last Thursday, May 2.
The Taoiseach was joined by his government colleagues, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe and Ministers of State Patrick O’Donovan and Damien English, at the event.
More than 150 invited guests attended the launch, at which both UL Chancellor Mary Harney and President Dr Des Fitzgerald addressed the audience. There was also a representation from the UL community, with UL Student Life President Ciara-Jo Hanlon on hand to greet the Taoiseach, and other faculty and students also in attendance.
It was UL’s delivery of the BSc in Construction Management and Engineering, aimed at developing future leaders of the construction industry, and its status as Sunday Times University of the Year 2019, which were the key reasons the University was selected to host the event.
The Glucksman Library, which doubled in size and capacity in 2018, adding an extra 7,600 sq. metres to the original library building, was also one of the early projects supported by Project Ireland 2040.
The event at UL was a review of the first year of the implementation of Project Ireland 2040, with some €7 billion earmarked for investment in projects in 2019.
“I think you can see some of the result of that investment vision in this campus,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the audience.
“Here today, in the Glucksman Library where one third of the cost, €10 million, came from the public capital programme. A Library which is easily the most impressive and the most modern of any university library in Ireland. With an ARC system using innovative new technology to store and retrieve books – that is an impressive sight for anyone to see, the way the books are stored and retrieved here.
“Here in UL, we can see the benefits of investing in higher education and I know how successful UL has been and how it has made such a huge difference for this city, allowing more students from the region to stay here, attracting students in from other parts of the country and overseas, helping us to attract investment and jobs into the Mid-West, and also spinning off loads of companies,” he added.
Welcoming the assembled guests, which also included LIT President Professor Vincent Cunnane and MIC President Professor Eugene Wall as well as 25 students from Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh and their teachers, UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald said it was a “particular honour” for UL to host the Ireland 2040 annual report launch.
“This is a most important project that has taken its first steps in realising the future infrastructure of this country. I am sure you appreciate, as I do, the opportunity to be briefed on the progress of this project directly and in person by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Government colleagues. You are most welcome to The Sunday Times University of the Year,” said Dr Fitzgerald.
“It is a particular honour to host you again so soon after the launch of this plan here in UL year. Last year’s launch event was attended by a large number of young people from this region and it is lovely to see pupils of Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh here today.
“Today’s students and young people will be the leaders of Irish society by 2040 and you will be the champions of the environment that this plan is enabling. Your contribution will be vital to the future growth of our economy and investment in students is at the heart of what happens here in UL,” he added.
In launching the report, Minister Donohoe noted the “high tech culture here in the University of Limerick” and the finance minister and Taoiseach were given a display of the Automated Reserve Collection (ARC) retrieval unit by Gobnait O’Riordan, Director of the Library and Information Services, as well being shown as some of the literary treasures housed in Special Collections.
Minister Donohoe said: “When I speak about foundations, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate building or location within which that we could be reviewing where we stand now (with Ireland 2040) than this magnificent library. When I arrived, I told those who were good enough to meet me, that any day you spend in a library is a great day.
“To be here in this library, to look at the fusion that is underway of culture, of science – the point at which the humanities begin to fuse with science and technology and to see this underway here.
“I want to in particular recognise and thank all the students that are here in attendance, our younger students here, I hope and I trust that all of you will have the ability to learn, to study, to enrich yourselves, if not here, in facilities that are like this across our country. And to many of the students taking a step away from their books and research for a moment to look at what is unfolding here, I wish them every success in their academic careers here and in the careers of lives and learning that are to follow.
“When I arrived in, the Director of the Library was good enough to show me both the extraordinary ARC, to see the way in which your learning is stored here, and then to go into your Special Collections room and see the way in which deep learning about this city, about this county, about our country – the way it is being preserved, not only for this generation, but for future generations to come – is a real, solitary reminder to me and to us as a government regarding the need to invest in our future, in Ireland 2040, to make buildings, to make experiences like this happen, but also a sign of what is to come as we deepen our investment in facilities and in learning like this both here and across the country,” he added.