The government has launched an ambitious new five-year strategy for Public Libraries across the country including here in Limerick where the city and county are serviced by 16 branches, one community library and one school mobile library.
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.
Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development 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”.
Minister Ring continued: “The overall aim is to increase active library membership from 16% of the population to 30% by end-2022. 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.” Minister Ring said.
Acknowledging the valued role of the librarian in delivering the broad range of services now available, the Minister said “Library staff have been leaders in driving change in our public libraries. I commend your commitment, passion and enthusiasm.”
The five-year strategy is a joint initiative of the Department of Rural and Community Development, the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA).
Tom Enright, Chair of the Library Development Committee added:” I look forward to working in partnership with all local authorities, the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Local Government Management Agency and all stakeholders in its delivery. Over the next five years, I am confident that the measures undertaken with the implementation of the Strategy will deliver an enhanced library service, more integrated, more visible and more accessible in the local community.”
Libraries will work with local partners to reach out to those communities that may not consider the library a place for them and increase communities’ awareness and use of services available.
Our Public Libraries 2022– Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities has three Strategic Programmes that reflect the core functions of the public library service:
• Reading and Literacy
• Information and Learning
• Community and Culture
It focuses on removing barriers to access and improving accessibility for all. The library service will draw on capacity across the library network to support and facilitate services provided by other sectors, developing existing relationships and building new ones to support delivery of integrated public services.
Libraries will also work with local partners to reach disadvantaged, marginalised and new communities, increasing these communities’ awareness of services available and firmly establishing the library as a resource for all.
The strategy will be delivered using enablers such as:
• 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 strategy is available on the Department’s website www.drcd.gov.ie
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