Mary Stuart with Pat Gallagher, chief executive, Westmeath County Council, at a function to mark her retirement as county librarian last week.

Former Offaly county librarian retires

Mary Stuart, who served as county librarian in Offaly for nine years, has retired.

Colleagues from Westmeath County Council, where she was county librarian since 2019, gathered on Thursday last, May 25, to pay tribute to her on the occasion of her retirement. Mary was also joined by her husband Dave, sons Jack and Ben, her mother Ann and sister Julie.

Forty years ago, Mary left her native Tipperary to move to Mullingar to work in the Library Service, and she started as a library assistant in library headquarters. With support from the council, she gained her diploma in library and information Studies, and over the years she gained promotion to executive librarian level.

In 2009 Mary was appointed county librarian in Offaly County Council. She worked there for nine years before leaving in 2018 to become head of Libraries Development in the Local Government Management Agency.

She returned to Westmeath as county librarian in 2019 with responsibility for Library and Arts.

Mary has always been a champion of using technology to improve services to the public. She played a key role in rolling out computerisation in libraries in the early 2000s.

She continued to see opportunities to use technology in new ways; during her tenure in Offaly, it became one of the first counties to offer ‘My Open Library’ as method of overcoming barriers in relation to opening hours in libraries.

Offaly native Pat Gallagher, chief executive, Westmeath County Council, paid tribute to Mary’s vision at that time, complimented her initiative and hard work, and welcomed how she brought both to Westmeath. The result was in improvements to Westmeath Libraries and the implementation of My Open Library in Castlepollard, Moate and Mullingar libraries.

Mark Keaveney, as director of service for Library and Arts, complimented Mary on her achievements – as well as implementing a work force plan for staffing, securing funding for more inclusive services and programmes, she navigated the pandemic and was a key part of the Keep Well campaign at that time.

Mr Keaveney also commended Mary’s contribution to developing policies in the wider council and in libraries at a national level.

After 40 years, Mary’s colleagues, locally and nationally, wish her well and hope that her retirement offers her new challenges and maybe the chance to run another marathon or two.