Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, today (Thursday 14th June), officially launched the ambitious new five year strategy for Public Libraries 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”.
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, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council added “As Chair of the Library Development Committee, which has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of this strategy, 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.
The strategy is available on the Department’s website www.drcd.gov.ie and is reproduced below.