'Opportunities for All' - The New Public Library Strategy

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Opportunities for AllIf you could build your ideal public library, what would it be like? A bright, spacious place to work, study, relax or enjoy community events? Free access, longer opening hours, Wi-Fi, self-service, ebooks and professional staff to help you with any research you might need? Or maybe you'd prefer to enjoy the digital library from the comfort of your own home? All of the above...or is that too much to ask?

Back in early September you were asked to contribute towards a new strategy for public libraries covering the period 2013 - 2017. Well, on 17th December last Phil Hogan, Minister at  the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, launched the new strategy, "Opportunities for All: the public library as a catalyst for economic, social and cultural development" (pdf, 1.2mb, 104pp).

Key Recommendations (Extract from Report):

The Library in the Community

  • The Department will continue strategic direction and will endeavour to provide financial support for the Library Buildings Capital Programme and service development, as economic circumstances allow.
  • Public libraries will explore the potential to secure additional funding through philanthropy, enterprise, public-private partnerships and other alternative sources.
  • Local authorities will work with Libraries Development, LGMA to undertake a comprehensive and ongoing National Audit of Public Library Buildings and Services to identify current service provision and best practice from which to plan national and local investment and improvement in library buildings and services.
  • Public libraries will be the frontline service of the local authorities and lead in community engagement, in line with the changing role of the local authorities and government policy.

Library Services

  • Public libraries will further develop the roles of information, literacy, learning and job-seeking support in the community, in addition to the traditional functions of promoting literature, reading and culture.

Universal Membership

  • The Department will work with local authorities and Libraries Development, LGMA to investigate models of service provision in terms of value for money and effectiveness with a view to enabling free access to core information, learning and cultural services by 2017.
  • The Department, in conjunction with Libraries Development, LGMA will investigate the feasibility of a registration mechanism for universal public library membership for all children born in Ireland.

Shared ICT

  • Local authorities, with the support of the Department and Libraries Development, LGMA will collaborate at national and regional levels to develop a single national library management system to maximise accessibility, cost-efficiency, reach and impact.
  • A single library management system will enable :-
    - One single national membership for universal access to all public libraries and online library services
    - National access for all citizens to the digital library
    - National catalogue and database of resources giving access to information on all collections
    - Potential for development of other national services.
  • Libraries Development, LGMA, working with local authorities and the Department, will develop a framework for standards and guidelines for ICT in public libraries and set up a national standards committee to monitor implementation based on an annual audit.

Library Service Organisation and Delivery

  • A review of existing organisation structures and service delivery will be undertaken to establish stronger, more effective and efficient public libraries in the context of local government reform, shared services and new opportunities afforded by the strategy outcomes.

Shared Procurement

  • A policy for shared acquisitions for libraries will be developed, including a national acquisitions consortium for public library print and electronic resources that maximises the cost-effectiveness of resources expenditure, increases purchasing power and gets the best choice of material to the user in line with government policy.

Read more on Ask About Ireland.

  • The Department will continue strategic direction and will endeavour to provide financial support for the Library Buildings Capital Programme and service development, as economic circumstances allow.
  • Public libraries will explore the potential to secure additional funding through philanthropy, enterprise, public-private partnerships and other alternative sources.
  • Local authorities will work with Libraries Development, LGMA to undertake  a comprehensive and ongoing National Audit of Public Library Buildings and Services to identify current service provision and best practice from which to plan national and local investment and improvement in library buildings and services.
  • Public libraries will be the frontline service of the local authorities and lead in community engagement, in line with the changing role of the local authorities and government policy.

Library Services

  • Public libraries will further develop the roles of information, literacy, learning and job-seeking support in the community, in addition to the traditional functions of promoting literature, reading and culture.

Universal Membership

  • The Department will work with local authorities and Libraries Development, LGMA to investigate models of service provision in terms of value for money and effectiveness with a view to enabling free access to core information, learning and cultural services by 2017.
  • The Department, in conjunction with Libraries Development, LGMA will investigate the feasibility of a registration mechanism for universal public library membership for all children born in Ireland. 

Shared ICT

  • Local authorities, with the support of the Department and Libraries Development, LGMA will collaborate at national and regional levels to develop a single national library management system to maximise accessibility, cost-efficiency, reach and impact.
  • A single library management system will enable o One single national membership for universal access to all public libraries and online library services o National access for all citizens to the digital library o National catalogue and database of resources giving access to information on all collections 
  • Potential for development of other national services.
  • Libraries Development, LGMA, working with local authorities and the Department, will develop a framework for standards and guidelines for ICT in public libraries and set up a national standards committee to monitor implementation based on an annual audit.

Library Service Organisation and Delivery

  • A review of existing organisation structures and service delivery will be undertaken to establish stronger, more effective and efficient public libraries in the context of local government reform, shared services and new opportunities afforded by the strategy outcomes.

Shared Procurement

  • A policy for shared acquisitions for libraries will be developed, including a national acquisitions consortium for public library print and electronic resources that maximises the cost-effectiveness of resources expenditure, increases purchasing power and gets the best choice of material to the user in line with government policy. 

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