The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is investing 1.6 million euro this year in the roll-out of the new initiative My Open Library in 22 public libraries around the country. The new service makes the popular community spaces and collections available to library members from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 pm, seven days each week, 365 days per year.
My Open Library extends the availability of library services during unstaffed hours while continuing to provide the regular staffed hours for ongoing delivery of the service and supporting users. During My Open Library hours, the service is operated on a self-service basis to library members aged 16 and over for borrowing and returning items, using the internet via library PCs or via Wi-Fi using their own devices, browsing, printing, photocopying, individual study or community activities and meetings. Library users gain access to the library via an automated system by using their membership card and an authorised pin number. Children can use the service if accompanied by a registered adult member. Entrance control software and new security provisions are installed in the branches, along with enhanced monitoring, lighting and public address systems.
The service has already been operating very successfully for almost two years in Banagher Library, Co Offaly and Tullamore Library, Co. Offaly, and Tubbercurry Community Library, Co. Sligo. The feedback from members of the public is extremely positive, with users commenting that the library is now much more accessible for commuters, students and families. Library staff in these three branches also report very encouraging experiences with My Open Library and no issues of concern. With an increase in opening hours of up to 85%, the new service has been found to strengthen the prominence of the library service in the local community by providing a town’s only non-commercial, indoor meeting place, welcoming to all and open daily from early morning to late evening. My Open Library has brought significantly increased usage of the library, particularly at weekends, and is attracting a broader range of customers with considerably increased use from the 35–55 year old group in the evenings. The number of items being borrowed from the library has also increased.
Damien English, T.D., Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal announced the launch of the initiative in June this year and praised the new service saying “It means that the public and communities will have access to this invaluable local resource when they need and want to use it most. This will strengthen the prominence of the library in the local community and position it as a focal point for community engagement.”
The role of library staff is recognised as key to the expansion of the library service in local communities. My Open Library does not involve any reduction of the existing staffed hours of service. During the regular staffed hours, library staff are available to provide expert and additional services and develop community engagement and programming.
The roll-out of My Open Library is currently underway and the service will be open to users in the 22 library branches in early 2017. Further funding will be made available for the initiative in additional branches over the coming years. This flexible, innovative service clearly has the potential to immensely increase the value of libraries and provide significant benefits to their local communities.
‘My Open Library’ offers extended opening hours to library members during unstaffed hours. The service includes –
• Opening hours of 08:00-22:00, 365 days per year,
• Automated access to the branch by library members via membership card and pin code during unstaffed hours,
• Access to all users 16 years and over (under 18 years with parental consent),
• Incorporation of ‘My Open Library’ access membership as part of any new membership issued to all applicants aged 16 or over,
• Streamlined application process for ‘My Open Library’ membership,
• Provision of self-service activities to include, but not limited to –
stock issue and return,
internet usage on pc and with wi-fi on own device,
studying / reading spaces,
access to toilet facilities.