Library Usage Enters a New Chapter

Clare Champion, Friday, 22nd February, 2002

By Dan Danaher

In spite of the huge increase in information technology, library membership in Clare is entering a new chapter with a 20% increase in readership recorded over the last two years, Clare County Council has revealed.

In fact, using free Internet access throughout the county has been one of the Libraries outstanding success stories with an increase in usage of 59% compared with the year 2000. In total, 94,300 sessions were booked last year consisting of hour-long Internet sessions and usage of special e-mail facilities in Ennis and Shannon. Last year, the usage of facilities provided by the network of branch libraries continued to grow to approximately half a million visits while a further 279,839 used the library website during the same period.

Over the past two years, library membership grew by 17,372 while the figure of 420,215 for book issues represents a 9% increase. County Librarian, Noel Crowley, promises that the dramatic increase in usage and membership will be reflected in expansion and a number of new developments over the next year. He says that the new library planned for Scariff will provide a full-time service for the area and will replace the existing part-time facility. "The service at Kildysart will improve both in quality and access from next September with new library facilities being made available by Clare VEC in the new second level college. This partnership will benefit students and the local population. The part-time library at Miltown is now issuing more books than two of our full-time branches and will have to be considered for upgrading to full-time status in the near future", he said. "A survey is being carried out to identify the signposting needs of the library service to ensure that library locations are identified", he added.

Complimenting library staff for contributing to the expansion of library services, Clare County Councillor, Christy Curtin, said the service was consolidating its role as a provider of leisure and educational pursuits, thanks to increased readership and book issues. "The partnership arrangements with Clare Vocational Educational Committee has provided excellent facilities in Miltown Malbay, Kilmihil and Kildysart with further scope for development in these centres", he added.

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