Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has announced a further investment of €200,000 to support the provision of additional eBooks and eAudiobooks in order to meet the significant increase in demand for access to the public library online service during the COVID-19 crisis. This is in addition to the already allocated €200,000 which was invested at the beginning of the crisis.
The Minister also announced a fund of €20,000 to support the provision of an EasyReader collection of books for emerging adult readers and people with literacy needs.
The funding will be directed through the Local Government Management Agency.
Announcing the funding, Minister Ring said,
“Since the public libraries closed on March 12th the levels of usage of our online library services has soared and is at unpredented levels. Feedback from users continues to be extremely positive and to help boost the online resources I am delighted to increase my Department’s contribution to online resources from €200,000 to €400,000.
“This is the second investment of €200,000 and since the first investment in late March nearly 21,000 new members have registered on Borrowbox, the service which allows access to the eBooks and eAudiobooks. This is nearly three times as many people as registered for the service during the first two months of the year so it shows how important and popular the service is. I would encourage everyone to join the library. It is free to do so and you can join via the Libraries Ireland website.
“Since the closure of public libraries on 12th March there has been an average of 504 new members registering daily for the Borrowbox service which provides eBooks and eAudiobooks to library members, compared to the daily average of 138 that registered previously in 2020. This is a 264% increase and usage of the online services is now at unprecedented levels. The average number of daily eBook loans prior to March 12th was 1,106 but since then it is more than double that figure with a daily average of 2,502.”
Minister Ring added:
“I am also delighted to support adult literacy by providing funding for the provision of a collection of EasyReaders which are an accessible format of books designed for emerging adult readers and people with literacy needs. The EasyReader format is easy to understand because it uses simple jargon-free language and shorter sentences. This initative has been developed in collaboration with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and is being rolled out as part of our national Right to Read Programme.”
Minister Ring added,
“I am also delighted to see that a number of local authorities are introducing a book delivery service to those cocooning. This is a very welcome addition and I would like to commend the local authorities who have reacted to this need and developed this highly valued outreach service.”
“Library staff are continuing to innovate online with STEAM Workshops, Virtual Coding Workshops, virtual bookclubs, and online storytimes. Another impressive initiative has been the delivery of the Spring into Storytime reading programme which would normally be held in libraries nationwide. As this was not possible this year due to the restrictions it is been delivered entirely online instead and the numbers have been outstanding with 302,787 views of the 476 storytime videos to date, compared to total attendances of 20,500 in the library branches during last year’s entire programme.“
Libraries are part of Phase Two of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business when they will commence a ‘contact and collect’ service in selected branches.