Use of online public library service soars during COVID-19 crisis

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New membership rates almost double versus same period last year

467% increase in people taking e-learning courses

Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural & Community Development, has called on members of the public to avail of the excellent content and services offered by the online public library service during the COVID-19 crisis.

Minister Ring, whose Department is responsible for public libraries, also highlighted the significant increase in users of the online library service since this emergency began.

There has been a near doubling of new library memberships during the COVID-19 crisis compared to the same period last year. Over 30,000 new members joined the library in March 2020 compared to just over 17,000 in March 2019.

Furthermore, there has been a considerable rise in usage of specific library services in the week commencing March 29th compared to the week commencing March 1st, including in the following areas:

313% increase in new users of eBooks and eAudiobooks service
467% increase in e-learning courses being taken
227% increase in language courses being taken
246% increase in usage of the online newspapers/e-magazines

Minister Ring said:

“This increase in usage of our online library services shows the benefits that people are getting from our libraries during this crisis. While the doors of our public libraries are temporarily closed, it’s great to see that people are availing of the vast array of reading and educational material online.

“During this challenging period, the online library service provides excellent ways to entertain and educate children as well as opportunities for adults to learn a language or skill or enhance their well-being.

“I am really heartened by the increase in membership and usage of our online libraries and I urge more people to sign up and avail of the wonderful content and services available. This is your library service, it is completely free and there is so much to be gained from it.”

If you are not a member already you can become an online library member by completing the online registration at

Our online public library service offers:

  • over 33,300 eBooks and 25,200 eAudiobooks
  • 4,000 magazines
  • 2,500 online newspapers from over 100 countries
  • over 500 e-learning courses
  • over 100 online language courses
  • In response to the increased demand, Minister Ring recently allocated €200,000 to purchase over 5,000 new eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Minister Ring concluded:

“We have invested significantly in our online library service in recent years and it has really come into its own in recent weeks. This has been made possible by our library staff and management who in a very short time period have re-purposed the library service so as to enable the public to get the best out of our libraries during this time.”

“Library staff are continuing to innovate in order to keep people entertained and educated online, including through online STEAM Workshops, Virtual Coding Workshops, online photography courses, virtual bookclubs, and writing competitions.”

“The national Spring into Storytime reading programme is also underway in co-operation with Irish publishers and authors, with lots of online story times and author readings for children of all ages throughout April and May. A large number of the libraries have also collaborated with Engineers Ireland to manufacture 3D facial shields for health workers.”

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