The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD has approved a major investment package for digital services and facilities in public libraries. The almost €8 million investment comprises of approximately €6 million from Minister Ring’s Department and a further €2 million contribution from Local Authorities.
Announcing the funding, Minister Ring said: “This investment will enhance ICT infrastructure, create new meeting spaces with state of the art technology and provide dedicated digital learning suites. The new facilities and services will attract new users of all ages to our public libraries.
“I am delighted to see innovative technology such as Dementia Tables which include dementia and learning disability software being installed as well as virtual reality headsets. All of this shows how progressive our libraries have become. We are to the forefront with new technologies and services for the communities we serve.
“I am delighted to approve this funding, it will transform our public library service across the country, with 309 libraries benefitting.”
The funding includes the provision of:
- iPads/tablets/smart devices for users and for staff to assist users
- Computers and workstations including image deployment technology
- Software to support design, gaming and coding
- Meeting space technology
- Podcasting equipment and workstations
- “Dementia Tables” which facilitate play and learning for people with mild to severe dementia as well as those with intellectual disabilities, learning difficulties and autism
- Mobile LCD screens with audio
- Interactive whiteboards
- Digital training suites
Minister Ring continued: “I launched the new public library strategy Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities in May. The strategy seeks to establish the library as not only a community hub but also an important enabler of digital services and facilitator of digital skills development. This significant investment is the first step towards realising this aim.”
The Minister also thanked the local authorities and the library staff for their ongoing commitment and support to the public library service. “I have to commend the local authorities for recognising the invaluable service the libraries provide and for committing €2 million to this investment package.”
Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities
The strategy has three strategic programmes that reflect the core functions of the public library service:
- Reading and Literacy,
- Information and Learning, and
- 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, and
- continued investment to support infrastructure, ICT, staffing and collections development.
Appendix A – Proposed Allocations for each Local Authority