Moate Library has been chosen as the first library in Westmeath to pilot the staffless library initiative.
My Open Libraries is an exciting initiative to build on the service already offered by library staff by using technology to introduce new self-service hours in addition to the existing opening hours. This means that library services in the town will be extended to run from 8am to 10pm.
Based on a Nordic concept, My Open Libraries has been piloted in Ireland in libraries in both Offaly and Sligo. The pilots found that the libraries were used to overcome the time constraints which many people who are working, commuting, or studying find hard to overcome. It has also developed an increased sense of community ownership and civic pride in their local library service.
My Open Libraries reinforces the relevance of the modern library. It recognises that the needs of the modern user can range from needing access to books, magazines and newspapers, to internet and Wi-Fi access, to photocopying and printing.
Staffed hours remain unchanged, recognising the body of work that library staff carry out in supporting their community. Whether encouraging young readers, creating exhibitions, organising talks or even giving a helping hand with problems on the internet, library staff lead the way in combating social isolation, supporting literacy and offering access to print and digital media.
Under the My Open Library system, adults can sign up for the service, which allows them to let themselves in to the library building outside normal hours, borrow and return books, use computers, Wi-Fi and internet, photocopy and print material, or simply read or study. Once registered as a user, a bar-coded library card and a personal PIN number are issued, which allows access to all the library’s facilities. Children can use the service if accompanied by a registered adult.