Republic of Ireland
Libraries and information services in the Republic of Ireland can be broadly divided into four main groups (see below). Following the ‘Pathways to Learning’ Conference in November 2006, COLICO, (Committee on Library Co-operation in Ireland) established two new library access initiatives in Ireland, inspired by the work of the FOYLE group and Inspire in England. These are a regional scheme, the Cork PAL and a scheme to promote and enhance access to music resources.
Co-operation and Access Schemes in the Republic of Ireland
1. The National Library of Ireland
The NLI collects, preserves and makes available books, manuscripts and illustrative material of Irish interest. It is also a copyright library. It is open to everyone free of charge, although a reader’s ticket is necessary in order to consult most categories of material. It is a library of last resort. An applicant will not be given a readers ticket to consult material which is readily available through an academic library to which he/she has access, or to consult material which is available via the public library service. The Library does not lend books and reading is done in the various reading rooms. There is also a copying service and it is possible to get photocopies, photographs, slides, or microfilm of most items in the collections. See the NLI’s website.
2. Public Libraries
There are 353 branch libraries and 31 mobile libraries provided by 32 library authorities. There are over 12 million visits to Irish public libraries each year. A survey commissioned in 2003, puts the level of usage at 36% with over two-thirds of the population having been a member of a public library at some stage.
In 2005 (most recent figures available), there were 778,421 registered members in the public library system, equivalent to 18% of the population. Membership figures alone do not reflect the increasing level of usage by adults of the reference, information and other services in public libraries, such as local history and exhibitions.
BorrowBooks (www.borrowbooks.ie) provides an online single point of access and search across all of the public library authorities catalogues and enables borrowers to locate and request items not held in their own library service from any Internet access location. It is an initiative of the Irish public libraries, supported by The Library Council /An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government and initially funded by the Information Society Fund. The service was launched officially in February 2006. The BorrowBooks service in its first year of existence received a total of 10,900 items requested during the year from public library users, and 6.795 items were supplied by public library authorities. More information on public libraries is available at www.librarycouncil.ie
3. Third Level Education Libraries and Information Services
All Irish university libraries are legal deposit libraries for the Republic of Ireland. Trinity College Library is also a legal deposit library for the United Kingdom. The libraries of NUI, Maynooth, TCD, UCC and UCD are European Documentation Centres.
3.1 ALCID (Academic Libraries Co-operating in Dublin)
ALCID is a co-operative arrangement between the Libraries of Dublin City University, University College Cork, National University of Ireland Galway, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Mater Dei Institute of Education, St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, Dublin Institute of Technology and St. Angela’s College Sligo. ALCID enables access to the collections of each of the participating libraries, without formality, on production of a common ALCID membership card for full-time academics, academic-related staff and registered students reading for higher degrees.
3.2 ANLTC (Academic and National Library Training Co-operative)
The NLI and the universitiy libraries have joined forces to identify training needs within Irish academic libraries in order to form the basis of an ongoing co-operative training and development programme. This training supplements each institution’s own programme and through joint group consultation aims to offer a wide range of training opportunities to library staff at an economical rate. Co-operative training also enables staff to meet colleagues from other institutions. See their website for more details.
4. Representative and Advisory organisations and Services
4.1 An Chomhairle Leabharlanna / The Library Council
An Chomhairle Leabharlanna advises the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and local authorities on the development of public library services. It also promotes co-operation in the Irish library and information services sector. It facilitates this co-operation primarily by providing the secretariat for the Committee on Library Co-operation in Ireland (COLICO).
4.2 COLICO (Committee on Library Co-operation in Ireland)
COLICO aims to provide a high quality information service on strategic co-operation within the library and information services on the island of Ireland.
COLICO is a North-South body whose function is to optimise the collective value of the combined resources of Irish libraries for their clienteles. The committee was established in 1977 and since 1994 has been the formal advisory body on library co-operation to An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, and the Library and Information Services Council, Northern Ireland (LISC). COLICO also provides liaison between Irish libraries and the British Library, which is represented on the committee.
COLICO monitors and encourages co-operative projects on the island of Ireland and works towards providing and enhancing shared resources for library staff and users. Most Irish libraries co-operate with COLICO by providing data on their document supply and inter-library loans traffic which are included in the statistics published in the COLICO Annual Report.
COLICO initiated a study on the provision of cross-sectoral pathways for learning to users of the public, academic, national and specialised libraries in Ireland to promote wider participation in the knowledge economy. To this end, in 2006 COLICO liaised with the INSPIRE committee in the United Kingdom, and organised the conference Pathways to Learning: exploring the potential for cross-sectoral library service provision. Following the conference, the Pathways to Learning (PAL) programme was established and the two PALs were developed: The Music PAL and the Cork PAL. See below.
4.3 The PALs (Pathways to Learning)
The Pathways to Learning Programme (PAL) supports the development of wider access to libraries and archives collections throughout the island of Ireland. COLICO established the programme in consultation with all sectors and following on from the conference held in 2006 Pathways to learning: exploring the potential for cross-sectoral library service provision. Two pilot schemes http://www.library.ie/pal/ under the Pathways to Learning programme were developed, one on a regional basis in Cork (Cork PAL), and the other on a thematic basis, focussing on music (Music PAL) commenced in late Summer 2009, and were formally launched on 8th March 2010 during Library Ireland Week.
The Music PAL scheme facilitates access to music information and materials available across a broad range of libraries and archives throughout the island of Ireland. It started on a pilot basis on 1st September 2009, and was launched nationally by novelist and radio broadcaster Deirdre Purcell on 8th March 2010 during Library Ireland Week.
Music PAL Libraries
The Music PAL scheme includes 15 public, 9 higher education, 3 conservatoire and 6 special libraries throughout the island of Ireland, a total of 33 institutions in all. Many of these hold broad collections of various sizes, while others (such as the Irish Traditional Music Archive and the Contemporary Music Centre) focus on specific musical genres.
Cork PAL is a cooperative agreement between all the main libraries in Cork city and county, with a view to ensuring wider access to learning materials for all the people of Cork and beyond. Cork PAL ensures increased access to libraries and the valuable resources they hold and maintain. It ensures greater cooperation between libraries and a more beneficial use of public resources. It facilitates the people of Cork to get the learning resources that they need, whenever they need them.
Library.ie which is managed by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna aims to be a first stop shop on the web for information relating to all types of libraries in Ireland.
4.5 Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL)
CONUL was established by the university libraries and the National Library of Ireland to promote co-operation among the member libraries and to provide a forum for discussion on matters of mutual interest.