Mr Michael Ring, TD, Minister for Rural and 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 of 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 (just gone ) compared to just over 17,000 in March 2019 and already in the first two weeks of April, 6,474 people have joined compared to 7,757 for the whole month of April last year.
Furthermore, there has been a considerable rise in usage of specific library services in the week commencing March 29 compared to the week commencing March 1, including in the following areas: (1 ) 313% increase in new users of e-books and audio books service; (2 ) 227% increase in people doing language courses; (3 ) 264% increase in people accessing online newspapers and (4 ) 65% increase in accessing 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 occupy and educate children as well as opportunities for adults to learn a language or a new skill.
"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 https://lgma.iii.com/selfreg
Online public library service offers: (1 ) Over 33,300 e-books and 25,200 e-audiobooks, (2 ) Over 500 e-learning courses; (3 ) Over 100 online language courses; (4 ) 4,000 magazines; (5 ) 2,500 online newspapers and (6 ) Hundreds of digital comics and graphic novels.
In response to the increased demand, Minister Ring recently allocated €200,000 to purchase over 5,000 new ebooks and audiobooks.
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, Facebook Live story times and writing competitions.
"A large number of the libraries have also loaned their 3D printers to universities and are collaborating with Engineers Ireland to manufacture 3D facial shields.”