New plans for libraries to open from 8am to 10pm seven days a week announced
Irish libraries will now be open seven days a week, from 8 am to 10 pm to the public, under new plans to double the number of visitors over the next five years.
Fines for overdue books will also be abolished under the new plans, announced to Tom Enright, the chair of the Libraries Development Committee.
The plans, entitled Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities, were launched yesterday at Dún Laoghaire library.
Almost two-thirds of the State’s public libraries will be operating under the new longer opening hours and will remain fully staffed during normal working hours, with an estimated 100 extra librarians to be hired in the coming months.
When libraries are unmanned, patrons will still be able to check out and return books using self-service desks.
The longer hours will give visitors the opportunity to study, use WiFi and often treat the library as a remote work location; holding meetings and using ‘hot-desking’ facilities to work away from the office.
Longer opening hours and self-service technology were trialled in Tullamore and Banagher, Co. Offaly two years ago to great success; the libraries experienced increased visitor numbers of between 75 and 185 per cent in 2016.
Up to 40 libraries will undergo an upgrade by the end of 2022 under the new plans, with the aim of developing libraries as digital learning centres and community hubs.
According to Enright, the plans are a response to the way people are now living and working in the modern world. Speaking to the Irish Times, he said: “Many people commute long distances to work and cannot get to the library between 9 am and 5 pm. We expect to see a range of capital projects being developed to address the improvements required.”
The plans, which will be backed by an investment of almost €5 million from the Government and local authorities, aims to double library membership numbers from 750,000 to 1.5 million by 2023.