Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced on Thursday 14th November, funding of almost €1.5 million to support the continued roll-out of the “My Open Library service” to 17 further library branches around the country.
The “My Open Library” service allows access to public libraries on a self-service basis from 8:00am to 10:00pm, 365 days a year. The Department funding will be matched by local authorities to the value of c.€0.5 million, giving a total investment of almost €2 million.
Waterford Libraries will expand their My Open Library services to Lismore Library in the New Year following the announcement by Minister Michael Ring of funding amounting to €119,932 destined for a new Open Library in Lismore. This funding will also provide two “Magic Tables” in the Dungarvan and Lismore branches. These interactive tables are proving very popular with the public and are particularly helpful for both younger and older people with dementia, autism and learning difficulties.
The public libraries strategy Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities aims to introduce the My Open Library service to 100 library branches by 2022. The service is currently available in 15 public libraries with a further three due to open before the end of 2019.
Automated access to the branch for library members during unstaffed hours (via membership card and pin code) forms an important part of this service. Provision of self-service activities include, but are not limited to:
The service is available to library members aged 16 years and over (under 18 years with parental consent). Announcing the funding the Minister said:
“The My Open Library service has been an amazing success. It is an exciting development and is transforming our libraries. I am delighted to provide this funding which will see a further 17 branches enabled to provide the service.
“The My Open Library service extends the availability of library services to customers at times that suit them best, providing greater flexibility and convenience through increased opening hours in addition to the invaluable staffed hours.
“It has facilitated increased access for students to study from early in the morning to late at night; families with working parents; commuters; people up-skilling; and community groups to use the meeting room facilities”
Minister Ring continued:
“Included in this funding package is funding for innovative technology including 22 ‘Magic Tables’ which have been piloted across the country over the last year and have been a great success. These tables are being used by carers and people with dementia, autism and learning difficulties and I have seen first-hand the joy they bring to people using them.
“My Open Library is one of a number of initiatives I have introduced to increase usage of our libraries which are a fantastic and free community resource. I have also abolished library fines in an effort to remove any barriers to people using the library service.”
The popularity of the My Open Library service is evident from statistics for the recent August Bank Holiday weekend when more than 1,334 people visited the 15 My Open Library branches. These branches would traditionally have been closed for the bank holiday weekend i.e. Saturday to Monday inclusive.
Minister Ring thanked the library staff in the existing My Open Library branches, saying:
“The My Open Library service that is being provided would not have been such a success without the cooperation and commitment of the staff in these libraries. The staff as well as the users, are to be complimented for its success. I would encourage more local authorities to endorse and become involved in this initiative, to the benefit of their customers and the communities they serve.”
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