A major investment package, announced by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Michael Ring TD, for digital services and facilities will benefit public libraries in Athlone and Moate as well as the wider library network.
The funding will enable the provision of ICT upgrades, meeting space technologies and facilities and digital learning suites for up to 300 public libraries in 2018.
Such funding provision includes iPads/tablets and smart devices for users and staff to assist users, computers and workstations, software to support design, gaming and coding, meeting space technology, podcasting equipment and workstations, mobile LCD screens with audio, interactive whiteboards and digital training suites.
Speaking at the announcement of the investment, Minister Ring said, "I am delighted to announce this major investment that will enhance the technological capacity across the library network and will further position our public libraries as an invaluable community resource.
"The funding will support a programme of ICT upgrades and developments to ensure libraries can provide a service that is not only in line with the needs of library users, but which can also deliver new and innovative services. It will develop digital learning centres and innovation centres, providing users with access to latest technologies and supporting library users who are not confident with technology.
“This investment will contribute significantly to the strategic actions in Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities which seeks to establish the library as an important enabler of digital services and facilitator of digital skills development."
This announcement follows on from the allocation of €3.4 million by the Department in 2017 for self-service technology and hot-desking facilities in public libraries.
“All of this will transform the facilities and services on offer in public libraries throughout Ireland,” Minister Ring added. “This investment and the new strategy is focused on public libraries delivering a modern, progressive library service which connects and supports communities and individuals. It is an ambitious strategy which is aimed at increasing library membership and usage of our public libraries. It focuses on removing barriers to access by eliminating fines and other charges, and challenging the belief that the library is only for certain sectors of society.”