Libraries in Ireland are leading the way in expanding their digital services for members and it is very clear that libraries are meeting the challenges posed by digital developments by grasping new opportunities and extending their services. One service of particular note is the ebook and audiobook lending service which is available free-of-charge to library members.
Operated through a website or app entitled ‘BorrowBox’, members can avail of over 20,000 ebooks and over 9,000 digital audiobooks through their smartphone, tablet or computer. Similar to commercial book platforms, users can browse the extensive catalogue and borrow up to five ebooks and five audiobooks for a three week period. The service offers a range of books across all genres and incorporates both new releases and popular titles. In February there were over 2,000 loans each of ebooks and audiobooks.
Furthermore, members can access over 1,300 national and international newspapers and over 300 magazines digitally using their membership card.
In terms of physical books, Irish libraries have worked together to develop one national catalogue, supported by a nationwide delivery service, from which members can use all library services, including borrowing items from any library in the country. This service is a world first.
The use of digital technologies by the library service is very encouraging and shows clearly that our libraries are evolving and are as relevant and as important today as ever before.
Work on the new public library strategy, ‘Our Public Libraries 2022: Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’ is an advanced stage and will be launched shortly by my colleague at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Minister Michael Ring TD.