- New strategy to shape the development of public libraries for the next five years
- Public asked for feedback on how to improve services
- Delivery of new initiative a key commitment in ‘Our Rural Future’
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today launched a public consultation on the development of a new strategy for the public library service.
The main objective of this consultation is to seek the views of the public and understand attitudes towards the library service.
It will also seek feedback on how services can be improved in terms of access, use and visibility of the public library.
The consultation will assist in the development of a new Public Library Strategy which will be published next year. This strategy will underpin ongoing government and local authority investment in the public library service over the next five years.
The new strategy will be the successor to ‘Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’ which has overseen much progress in the public library service in Ireland over the past five years. The new strategy will be equally ambitious in continuing to grow the library service.
Speaking about the importance of engaging with this consultation, Minister Humphreys said:
“Our public libraries play a vital role in the community – providing a safe and welcome educational space for people of all ages. They are also a place for us to visit, to relax, to take a breath and to delve into the wonderful world of story-telling.
“This particular strategy builds on the significant process that have been made under previous strategies and will bring our libraries onto the next stage of their development.
“The public library service belongs to you, our citizens. And so, we want to hear from you.”
The Minister added:
“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, our libraries continued to provide vital services to people of all ages in communities across the country.
“I really want to pay tribute to the dedicated and hard-working library staff who are a credit to themselves and the communities in which they work.
“This consultation will give the public a wonderful opportunity to give their views on how we can continue to improve our library service – so that our citizens young and old can reap the benefits.”
People are invited to complete the survey online at www.LibrariesIreland.ie or alternatively, visit their local library to complete it in person.
The consultation will run for the next five weeks with the closing date scheduled for 5pm on 9 July, 2022.
The delivery of the strategy is a key commitment in Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious five-year policy to revitalise Rural Ireland.
Notes to Editor
Our Public Libraries 2022
The previous public library strategy ‘Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’ was published jointly by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) in June 2018. It covers a five year period up to 2022 and is underpinned by four strategic objectives:
- Providing information and enhancing literacy skills
- Promoting the library service as a key community resource
- Seeking to increase library membership and usage by individuals and communities
- Continuing investment in library buildings, technology and facilities
The strategy celebrates 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. Over the lifetime of the strategy, a focus has been placed on establishing the public library as a welcoming community hub with skilled staff providing guidance and support across a range of areas. There has also been an emphasis on supporting staff to develop and enhance their skills, and to develop their confidence and capacity to be leaders both for library users and for their fellow team members.
The ambitious strategy delivered significant change for the public library service, including key achievements such as:
- The removal of fines
- Upgrades to ICT infrastructure
- Improved availability of flexible opening hours through the rollout of the My Open Library service.
- Expansion of the Libraries Capital Programme
- A national media campaign promoting the public library service
In many areas, goals were completely achieved, while in others partial progress has been made and more work is to be done during the lifetime of the new strategy.
New Public Library Strategy
As the progress made in the previous strategies has been substantial, it is important to build on the momentum of results and outcomes already achieved. A new strategy is required to tailor this in light of the very different circumstances, new challenges and opportunities which are emerging. The new strategy is being developed in partnership with Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and will be published in early 2023. It will be a five-year plan for the period 2023-27 and will set the strategic context for further investment in library infrastructure, technology, programmes and services.
Scope of the consultation
The consultation is open to everyone in Ireland and internationally. A survey questionnaire will be widely publicised through various media to individuals and organisations, whilst a programme of workshops, focus groups and individual interviews will be held with key stakeholders.
The overarching purpose of the consultation programme is three-fold:
- To communicate and reflect on what has been achieved over the last five years and how things look now as libraries look forward to the next five years
- To consult on the proposed vision, mission, values and priorities to underpin the strategic context for the next five years
- To engage with stakeholders, staff and library users on identified themes and lines of enquiry to initially reflect on the current position, and then to identify potential areas for prioritisation and development
All relevant documentation will be made available on the Libraries Ireland website from the launch date and will include:
- Current strategy and action plan (for reference purposes)
- Brief statement of progress made against the current action plan
- Consultation document outlining the proposed vision, mission etc.
- A link to the online survey questionnaire
- Consultation plan (public version of the final plan)