Abbie McGowan has started her new role as a librarian in town and is looking forward to bringing her expertise and her love for books to improve the overall library experience for everyone.
Abbie was born in Croydon in the UK has Irish connections through her father’s family in Sligo and Clare. She moved to when she was 9 and graduated from NUIG in 2012 with a BA in History and Archaeology, and did her Post-Grad in Library and Information Studies in Robert Gordon University Aberdeen. She has worked in a huge variety of different jobs- toyshops, book shops, pet shops. Among those roles she worked as an intern in Westside Library where current County Librarian Bernie Kelly officiates.
Prior to her full time move, Abbie was familiar with the town as she had previously worked at the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre for two summers in 2015 and 2016 and is the current secretary of Cath Eachroma 1691. She moved to Ballinasloe permanently at the start of the lockdown in March 2020 and started working in Ballinasloe Library last month.
Abbie’s love for books and reading began early: “Thanks to my parents I developed a love of reading at a very early age- I was reading Tolkien aged 6- and knew I wanted to be a librarian as soon as I realised it was a job. I love libraries because they offer a world of information and the exact same opportunities to everyone; when you come in through the doors of the library everyone is entitled to access the same services, “ she explains.
“I love the Church Gallery and the local history services. The Gallery has so much potential and I’m really excited to be able to work with a space like that. Ballinasloe is one of only four libraries in Galway that has access to a whole archive of newspapers. These are invaluable to anyone trying to research their family tree, for leaving cert and third level students, or anyone looking for information about the town. We also have a substantial collection of newspapers dating from the early 1800s that can be viewed on microfilm along with access to dedicated genealogy websites,” Abbie notes.
“The library offers audio and e-books, along with newspapers, a wide variety of magazines, and even online courses - all for free. Even those not interested in reading fiction can still find a wealth of information on a subject they’re interested in. For those that don’t use the library or think that libraries aren’t for them I would strongly suggest just coming in and checking us out. The library is one of the few public spaces left that doesn’t require you to spend a penny, and we have the potential to bring together any type of group you can think of, be it Vinyl Record Swap Meetings, Documentary Clubs, Knitting Groups, or Art Groups,” she enthuses.
“While I think reading books will never go out of fashion, I think libraries have expanded so much that the possibilities for the future are now endless. Libraries can now offer everything from 3D printers, to mum and toddler groups, exhibitions, and everything in between. We're only really limited by the imagination of the local community,” Abbie concluded.
To find out more visit Ballinasloe's Europe Direct Library's Facebook Page here or better yet - pop in to the Library!
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