The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has approved an investment package for digital services and facilities in public libraries.
The almost €8 million investment comprises approximately €6 million from Minister Ring’s Department and a further €2 million contribution from local authorities.
Minister Ring said: “This investment will enhance ICT infrastructure, create new meeting spaces with state of the art technology and provide dedicated digital learning suites. The new facilities and services will attract new users of all ages to our public libraries.
“I am delighted to see innovative technology such as Dementia Tables which include dementia and learning disability software being installed as well as virtual reality headsets.
“All of this shows how progressive our libraries have become. We are to the forefront with new technologies and services for the communities we serve.
“I am delighted to approve this funding, it will transform our public library service across the country, and 309 libraries will benefit.”
The funding includes the provision of:
• iPads/tablets/smart devices for users and for staff to assist users
• Computers and workstations including image deployment technology
• Software to support design, gaming and coding
• Meeting space technology
• Podcasting equipment and workstations
• “Dementia Tables” which facilitate play and learning for people with mild to severe dementia as well as those with intellectual disabilities, learning difficulties and autism
• Mobile LCD screens with audio
• Interactive whiteboards
• Digital training suites
Minister Ring said: “I launched the new public library strategy Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities in May.
“The strategy seeks to establish the library as not only a community hub but also an important enabler of digital services and facilitator of digital skills development.
“This significant investment is the first step towards realising this aim.”
The minister also thanked the local authorities and the library staff for their ongoing commitment and support to the public library service.
“I have to commend the local authorities for recognising the invaluable service the libraries provide and for committing €2 million to this investment package.”