Part 6: Assessing Ireland’s Open Library Initiative

Do libraries only provide access to information?

Libraries are some of the world’s oldest institutions. Their primary function has always been to provide access to information. However, in recent years libraries have been transformed into being community spaces. Patrons enter into the library to find information that they need, but once the information is found they can use the facilities to turn that information into action. They can research, electronically communicate, educate themselves and connect with community groups to put the information to use. The library is a platform from which people can take meaningful action in order to improve their lives. Are you currently out of work? Then why not go online in the library and do a web design course that will help you get back to work? Are you going on holidays? Then why not learn a language through the library resources and then attend a language group to practice your new skills? Do you want your kids to receive the inspiration to read and to learn new skills? Then why not bring them into the library to take part in a treasure hunt or reading group, or to do a computer skills or coder dojo class?

I am a qualified Librarian who has also worked for 13 years as a Teacher. I am the Library Assistant in your local library also. Any library that knows and understands the service has been investing in three key areas over the past ten years. These are: the library as community, education in the library, and electronic resources and remote access to them. I am all in favour of using technology to our advantage and I do wish that public libraries in Ireland made better use of the technology that is available to us. However, libraries are very human places. People read, learn, play, and socialise in the library. Whether it is doing a course, attending a group, reading the paper, surfing the net, or having a conversation and a cup of tea, our libraries are unique community spaces. Open libraries, if not planned and used properly have the potential to dehumanise our community spaces. We need to take an honest look at the way in which this government, through their cost cutting policies and their deceit, have been dehumanising our society. When will our children, the elderly, the the unemployed, the disabled and disenfranchised human beings in this country be given precedence over fiscal and economic policy? These blog posts have posed a lot of questions, but this one is perhaps the most important question of all.

Norwich Library’s ‘Love Your Library’ Campaign

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