With over 17 million visits annually, libraries play an important community role as centres of knowledge, information and culture.
The public library:
is a local service with a nationwide reach – members can use all library services, including borrowing and returning items, at any library in the country
delivers a national literacy and reading programme Right to Read
through a core set of services and resources
delivers a national Work Matters
programme of services for business and employment supports for locally based entrepreneurs, start-ups and job seekers
delivers the Healthy Ireland at your library
initiative – developing health information in public libraries, providing books, e-books, audiobooks and e-magazines on health and wellbeing, as well as talks, discussions and workshops with a focus on physical health, mental health and health literacy
offers a national public library catalogue supported by a nationwide delivery service – items can be ordered online or in person and delivered quickly to the local library – the first such national service anywhere in the world
The public library provides access to a large collection of free online resources, with:
over 33,300 eBooks and 25,200 eAudiobooks
over 4,000 magazines
2,500 online newspapers from over 100 countries
over 500 e-learning courses and 100 online language courses
My Open Library is an innovative technology and customer service focused initiative which was introduced on a pilot basis in three libraries in 2016 and is currently being rolled out to a further 23 libraries, with ten new libraries operating the service in recent months.
The focus of the service is to extend the availability of library services to customers at times that suit them best, providing greater flexibility and convenience through increased opening hours outside of normal staffed times. My Open Library is available on a self-service basis from 8am to 10pm, 365 days a year. The service complements regular staffed hours and ensures optimum delivery of service and support for customers, community engagement and development of programming activities
The innovative use of advanced-access technology has facilitated access for:
students to study from early in the morning to late at night
families with working parents
community groups to use the meeting room facilities
My Open Library has strengthened the prominence of the library in local communities by providing a non-commercial, indoor meeting place that is open and welcoming to all.
Most Borrowed Books and Authors
Details of the books and authors borrowed most often from Irish public libraries in 2019 have been published by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), which compiles the information as part of the Public Lending Remuneration (PLR) Scheme.
The five most popular authors were:
The most popular authors of Adult Books were:
The Top Five of the 20 most borrowed titles were:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down
My Mr. Men complete collection
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway
The Top Five Adult Books borrowed were:
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
The Country Girls Trilogy
For a full listing of all of the results please click here.
Right to Read Programme
The Right to Read Programme is a national programme aimed at improving reading ability across Ireland. It is in line with and complements existing literacy programmes.
The programme has a set of guidelines, rolled out in 2017, that are available to assist each local authority, as well as having a Right to Read co-ordinator in place in each area.
Local Literacy Action Plans are being developed for each local authority area to support children, parents and adults with low levels of literacy to improve their reading ability. Public libraries will take a leading role for local government in delivering the Right to Read programme.
They will bring together the knowledge and experience of skilled staff in local authority services and agencies. Local implementation will be led by the City or County librarian supported by a Right to Read Network.
Since 2016, the nationally agreed collection of services that public libraries provide to schools is in place. The library service will deliver this collection with the support of the Right to Read Network and the Department of Education and Skills, with a particular focus on making the schools aware of the service.
Healthy Ireland at Your Library
The Healthy Ireland at Your Library programme aims to make libraries the 'go to' place for health information in communities. This free service will help to better inform the public about health and wellbeing.
The book collection and online resources will include stock focused on the priority areas of:
is the national adviser and development agency for public libraries in Ireland. It was established in 2012 within the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and continues the functions of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, The Library Council. They advise the department and the library authorities on public library development and on library co-operation.
Public Library Standards and Benchmarking
The Public Library Standards and Benchmarks
document provides a roadmap for the development and delivery of the library service in line with local and national government policy and with library service best practice nationally and internationally.
The aim of the document is to provide well-located, well-planned, effective public libraries with civic spaces, open and welcoming to all. It also aims to improve the physical community environment, promoting urban regeneration and sustainable communities.
All public libraries collect materials about the history of their county or locality.
There is a huge range of material available including:
county and parish histories
old records and newspapers
Developed by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), the Ask About Ireland Website
is a substantial online resource.
It can be used as a:
local history resource
portal to public library websites and local studies contacts
source of local content supporting the schools’ curricula
gateway to nationally significant historical datasets
It is a statutory responsibility for local authority to provide the proper management, custody, care and conservation of local records and local archives. The Department of Rural and Community Development assists local authorities to hire a qualified archivist and to rent accommodation for the purpose of processing archives.
The department also financed and co-ordinated a survey of local authority records and archives which was published in the report of the Report of the Steering Group on Local Authority Records and Archives.
The report also outlines a strategy for developing local archives services. Most local authorities have already established, or are developing, local archive services.