The number of public library memberships soared in Ireland last month as people check out the free ebooks and reading materials on offer online.
Did you know that there are over 33,300 eBooks and 25,200 eAudiobooks available for free with a library membership? Along with 4,000 magazines, 2,500 online newspapers and over 600 learning courses?
Book lovers have been signing up in their thousands to access this reading material during the Covid-19 isolation period.
There has been a near doubling of new library memberships to the same period last year. Over 30,000 new members joined the library in March 2020 compared to just over 17,000 in March 2019.
Now, more members of the public are being invited to avail of the content and services.
Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural & Community Development, said: “This increase in usage of our online library services shows the benefits that people are getting from our libraries during this crisis. While the doors of our public libraries are temporarily closed, it’s great to see that people are availing of the vast array of reading and educational material online.
“During this challenging period, the online library service provides excellent ways to entertain and educate children as well as opportunities for adults to learn a language or skill or enhance their wellbeing.
“I am really heartened by the increase in membership and usage of our online libraries and I urge more people to sign up and avail of the wonderful content and services available. This is your library service, it is completely free and there is so much to be gained from it.”
If you are not a member already you can become an online library member by completing the online registration at www.librariesireland.ie/join-your-library
In response to the increased demand, Minister Ring recently allocated €200,000 to purchase over 5,000 new eBooks and eAudiobooks.
Minister Ring concluded: “We have invested significantly in our online library service in recent years and it has really come into its own in recent weeks. This has been made possible by our library staff and management who in a very short time period have re-purposed the library service so as to enable the public to get the best out of our libraries during this time.
“Library staff are continuing to innovate in order to keep people entertained and educated online, including through online STEAM Workshops, Virtual Coding Workshops, online photography courses, virtual bookclubs, and writing competitions.
“The national Spring into Storytime reading programme is also underway in co-operation with Irish publishers and authors, with lots of online story times and author readings for children of all ages throughout April and May. A large number of the libraries have also collaborated with Engineers Ireland to manufacture 3D facial shields for health workers.”