undefineddlrLexiconPhoto: Donal Murphy via Carr Cotter Naessens Architects

Michael Ring, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, officially launched the ambitious new five year strategy on 14th June in the Lexicon Library, Dún Laoghaire.

Our Public Libraries 2022– Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities is a progressive strategy which aims to improve access, use and visibility of the library as a community hub, and develop the library as a focal point for community and cultural development.

Minister Ring highlighted the vision for the Strategy, which was guided by the public consultation process, as one of public libraries ‘as attractive and welcoming spaces where all members of the community can access knowledge, ideas and information, and where people can reflect, connect and learn.’ It will focus on removing barriers to access by eliminating fines and other charges, and challenging the belief that the library is only for certain sectors of society.

The Strategy will enhance digital and technology capacity across the library service. ‘In terms of technology, we aim to develop digital learning centres in all suitable libraries and extend the My Open Library Service to up to 100 libraries by 2023, positioning the public library as an invaluable community resource.’

The main elements of the delivery plan are

  • infrastructure and services with a focus on fit-for-purpose buildings and ICT capacity
  • library team development with skilled staff taking a more proactive and confident customer-focused approach
  • promotion and marketing, at national and local level, to raise visibility and awareness generally, but also to reach out to those communities that may not consider the library a place for them
  • high-quality collections based on the latest technology and innovative solutions
  • continued investment to support infrastructure, ICT, staffing and collections development.

The Irish Times reports:

‘The public will be able to use most libraries seven days a week from between 8am and 10pm under new plans to double the number of visitors over the next five years.

‘The extended hours will give members more opportunities to study, use wifi, hold meetings and, in some cases, use libraries’ free “hot-desking” facilities to work remotely from offices.

‘Libraries will continue to be fully staffed during normal working hours and there will be no decrease in staffing hours. Indeed, 100 extra librarians are to be hired in coming months.’ And there will be more funding for health-related stock.