A two year capital programme approved by the Minister for Housing and Local Services, Michael Finneran is to contribute towards the development and refurbishment of a range of public libraries throughout the country. €7.8m will be allocated in 2010 for the programme and is in line with the commitment set out in the 2008 policy document on public library service provision, Branching Out – Future Directions.
Funding has already been provided to a range of library projects throughout the country in line with the policy document and the new 2010-2011 programme will build on those activities with support for library development in Ballyfermot, Dublin City; Dún Laoghaire and Ballyroan, Co Dublin; Carlingford, Co Louth ; Gweedore, Co Donegal; Roscommon Town; Muine Bheag, Co Carlow; Tullamore, Co Offaly; Swinford, Co Mayo and a replacement mobile and delivery van for Limerick County.
Subject to public finances being available in 2011, library projects in Kilkenny City; Donegal Town; Ballinasloe, Co Galway; Portarlington, Co Laois; and Arklow, Co Wicklow will receive grant aid. Funding is also designated in 2011 to provide library vehicles to South Dublin (schools mobile) and Cavan (mobile library).
With more than 16 million visits in 2008, public libraries continue to attract an increasing number of users, not just to borrow books, but to avail of the wide range of other services now available in libraries. Minister Finneran added that he was “particularly pleased to see evidence of very significant increases in library usage across the country generally with people availing of initiatives like free e-learning to update their skills to enhance their chances in the jobs market”.
The Minister also expressed the hope that the new programme would “make a significant contribution to promoting economic recovery in the towns involved” as the building and refurbishment will create local jobs in construction, fit out and ICT, which the Minister claimed was in keeping with the aims of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy – A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal launched by An Taoiseach in December 2008.