Plans for a new library and resource centre at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) have taken a significant step forward with the confirmation that the Government has agreed, in principle, to co-fund the project up to a maximum state contribution of €30.88 million.
This project being advanced will be supported under Project 2040, and envisages a co-funded development of 4,955m2 Library/Learning Resource Centre, to include a combination of learning resource spaces, teaching facilities, study spaces including relaxed, open, group, computer, in addition to areas housing specialist collections.
The funding allocation comes after Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris visited the existing library building in 2022 to further explore the plans for the new facility, with the Minister now approving the project moving to the detailed design and pre-tender stage.
Speaking as he confirmed the allocation on funding, Minister Harris said: “Through the HEA, we will continue to collaborate with MIC (Mary Immaculate College) to further advance their plans. Recognising that substantial work has already been carried out in preparation for the next stage of the project lifecycle, the current approval in principle permits the remaining work to be completed in the planning and design stages.
“This project has the potential to deliver on a range of strategic objectives and will significantly improve the learner facilities in the college and support an inclusive and climate friendly environment.
"I look forward to seeing how the College finalise design plans for their developments and look forward to engaging further at the next stage of project development."
The Minister added: “I want to acknowledge the work of Mary Immaculate College and the HEA in getting us to this stage with this project. I also want to commend the work that they do in providing, supporting, and coordinating a comprehensive range of education that are responsive to the needs of learners and local communities. It is so vitally important that our student body reflects the diversity of the student population, particularly our future educators.”
The 4,955m2 building will be situated in the heart of the MIC Limerick campus and will replace the existing outdated structure. The new building will deliver a future-proofed Library/Learning Resource Centre, centrally located within the MIC campus, and addressing the recently constructed Tara building as well as the protected Foundation Building and Residence Block.
Internally the building will feature a range of learning settings from silent study areas to lively group work rooms. It will have over 550 study places, and will accommodate over 170,000 volumes. The Library / Learning Resource Centre will also contain, in its current design, a 288-seat lecture theatre, media editing suites, a media studio, seminar rooms, staff offices and all the ancillary spaces necessary for a higher education library. Computerised images of the new building available to view here.
Welcoming the confirmation of funding was President of MIC, Professor Eugene Wall, who said: “Everyone at MIC is delighted at the long-awaited announcement that the Government has agreed to a very significant funding investment of up to €30 million in the development of a new library building for Mary Immaculate College. This will enable us to build a state-of-the-art library that will meet MIC’s vital requirements as a modern, thriving education institution. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Simon Harris for his consistent support for this project. I’d also like to thank others who have backed the project from the outset, particularly Senator Maria Byrne, Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, Minister Niall Collins and Minister Patrick O'Donovan.”
The existing library was constructed in 1976 and was built to serve a student body of 750 students. Since then, the number of students at MIC has grown to 5,000 and the manner in which students learn and engage in learning supports has changed significantly.
Aoife Gleeson, President of Mary Immaculate Students’ Union (MISU): “We are absolutely delighted with the announcement of the new library building for MIC Limerick. This is a really long time coming and the students have been asking for this for years and years and years. We have so many students who need the space for studying and we’re delighted to finally see this cross the line.”
Ciarán McCaffrey, Head of Capital Programmes in the HEA, said: "We welcome today’s announcement of approval in principle for a new Library/Learning Resource Centre at Mary Immaculate College. This project will enable MIC to provide state of the art flexible learning spaces to support its growing student population. This approval allows MIC to complete the planning and design stages of the new Library/Learning Resource Centre and the HEA will continue to work closely with MIC as it moves to the next stage of the project lifecycle."
The new Library will be constructed so as to operate in the most environmentally sustainable manner with NZEB (Net Zero Energy Ratings) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) ratings specified at project outset that will contribute to a greener campus. All works on the project will align with MIC’s commitments in the area of Climate Change & Sustainability as set out in the Masterplan 2042, including efficient floor depth design to lessen energy usage and improve daylight within spaces, the use of building materials that maximise the use of recycled material to promote longevity and avoid the use of hazardous materials within the building, and minimising light pollution from the buildings and from external light.
It is hoped that building works will commence next summer and with the project being finalised in early 2026.