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Louth TDs welcome “game changing” library funding

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Ardee Library at night, in April 2015. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

€86,000 has been available to fund a new strategy for Louth – with local representatives quick to welcome the money which will be spent on services across the county, including Ardee.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring TD announced on Thursday that his department were providing €64,645 towards developing a new library strategy for Louth County Libraries, with the remaining €21,549 in funding coming from Louth County Council. Millions are being spent nationwide, with money provided to local authorities.

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Speaking today, Minister Ring said, “This game changing investment in our public libraries will enable the purchase of self-service machines for more than 200 libraries; books to promote literacy for children; and hot desk facilities for business people and job seekers.

“This will kick start a modernisation of our library service which will make the service far more user friendly and accessible. The RFID self-service machines will enable library users to take out and return books without staff assistance. Crucially they enable for libraries to remain open and offer a fully automated self-service outside normal staff hours,” he continued.

“From early 2018 we hope to have 23 libraries around the country open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The investment in more than 200 self-service machines will pave the way for increased opening hours for many more libraries. This is all being done in an effort to increase membership and usage of our libraries.”

Drogheda based TD Fergus O’Dowd was among those to express his delight at the news on Thursday afternoon. “This is fantastic news and my hope is that this new Library Strategy will focus inter alia on increasing both the membership and the use of our public libraries,” he said.

“This can be achieved through improved promotion of the library service, development of the library workforce and continuing development of quality services that will attract an increased number of users and members over the five-year period of the strategy.”

“This announcement will underpin the launch of the new Library strategy in 2018,” he added. His Fine Gael colleague Dolores Minogue told ThisIsArdee.ie today that she would work to ensure monies obtained today would go towards the library service in Ardee.

Fianna Fail deputy Declan Breathnach also welcomed the announcement saying the money will go towards, amongst other things, proving hot desk facilities and funding the purchase of more book stock.

“The funding will go towards supporting the introduction of new technologies to enable more self-service facilities, more hot-desk facilities, on-line resources and printing facilities, and to fund the purchase of more book stock,” he said in a statement.

“These new facilities hopefully will attract more members to this valuable, free service.  It will also provide a comfortable and user-friendly space for research, and for job-seekers to have the use of IT facilities and to interact with others.”

The Department had sought proposals from local authorities for funding under three streams – improving book stock for the Right-to-Read initiative, providing hot desk facilities for the Work Matters at the Library scheme and Self Service Technology.

The move to implement self-service options and extend opening hours at Ardee Library remains on the cards, despite a delay in launching the ‘My Open Library’ scheme in the library branch in 2017.

Late last year, Ardee Library was shut for two months to faciliate major electrical upgrade work, as well as a renovation of of the main library area. This was in part to facilitate the upcoming move to provide self-service facilities.

Checkout machines were installed and a new reception area was built, while new doors and windows were also installed in the building, as well as new electronic equipment to facilitate the new services. The library reopened in January this year but as of yet, the new self-service features have not been made available nor have the opening hours extended.

ThisIsArdee.ie learned in September that the My Open Library scheme is still going ahead in Ardee and the delay has come about due to ‘technical issues’ nationally.

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