Libraries Ireland 2022
The new public library strategy 2018-2022, Our Public Libraries 2022, Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities was launched on the 14th June 2018, by Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, at DLR LexIcon Library. It sets out a progressive plan for public library services for the next five years to improve access, use and visibility of the library as an essential community service, securing its long-term sustainability and developing a multi-functional library service that meets the needs and expectations of a modern society.
Minister Ring outlined that “The Strategy will bring forward actions which will include the development of programmes and activities to engage with disadvantaged and marginalised communities, as well targeted local and national promotion campaigns.It will be underpinned by continued investment in vital library service enablers, including library buildings, service development, ICT capacity and the library staff. Building on technological and service innovations of recent years, the Strategy focuses on improving access, use and visibility of the library service, as well as establishing the public library as a ‘go-to-place’ for integrated public services.”
The 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). It was developed following an extensive consultation process, including a public consultation which received over 220 submissions and responses. The Strategy is shaped largely by the outputs of this consultation and has been guided by the feedback from library staff across the country, as provided through staff consultations.
Acknowledging the importance of the new Strategy the Minister said: “I am confident that this will secure the library service’s long-term sustainability, developing a multi-functional service that meets the needs and expectations of a modern society. Building on technological and service innovations of recent years, the Strategy focuses on improving access, use and visibility of the library service, as well as establishing the public library as a ‘go-to-place’ for integrated public services.”
Over the next five years, public libraries will expand their reach at the heart of communities and their contribution to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing and deliver services of relevance to all ages, with skilled and knowledgeable staff supporting and enabling the users.
The vision for the new strategy is 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.
Our Public Libraries 2022 will focus on providing even greater access, use and visibility of these services, and secure equitable access for all community members by removing barriers, streamlining the process for joining, and improving access to services.
The strategy will be delivered byskilled and knowledgeable staff providing guidance and support for communities across a range of areas, including –
- reading and literacy,
- lifelong learning for all ages,
- business and employment, and
- healthy living and wellbeing.
The key objectivesof the strategy include:
- bringing greater structure and consistency to the library’s role in literacy support and development
- supporting lifelong learning opportunities
- establishing the library as the ‘go-to-place’ for reliable authoritative information
- developing the library as a focal point for community and cultural development
- working collaboratively with others to deliver integrated approaches like the Work Matters business and employment supports programme and Healthy Ireland.
The strategy programmes are underpinned by six strategy enablers, which include:
- 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 Minister particularly recognised the key role of the librarian in delivering the broad range of services now available, the Minister personally acknowledges the enthusiasm, expertise and dedication with which librarians and the library services undertake their role saying “Our public library service has been evolving over the last decade and our library staff have been to the forefront embracing this change. I must commend you for how you have embraced this change with commitment, passion and enthusiasm. You are the reason that our libraries are progressive, innovative and responsive; delivering world-leading services.”
Minister Ring also noted that the vital role libraries have in the lives of individuals and their communities. “More and more our public libraries are becoming the heartbeat of local communities and the focal point for an increasing range of community services.”