Over 91,000 items have been borrowed from the new Arklow Library since its opening exactly a year ago in April 2016.
The new library celebrated its first anniversary on Tuesday (April 4th). The library is prominently situated at the top of Main Street in a magnificent award-winning building which it shares with the Arklow Municipal District of Wicklow County Council.
In its first year of operation the library has welcomed over 95,000 visitors through its doors and issued over 91,000 items, 67% of these transactions conducted on the self-service kiosks.
The library has an impressive range of facilities including the Children’s library which is sunny and bright with integrated window seating, colourful display units and a wonderful range of books for babies to teens. Every National School in the Arklow area is engaged with the library and there are daily class visits. Last summer over 535 children completed the Summer Reading challenge.
Arklow library also regularly welcomes visits from local secondary schools. These usually include a tour and helpful hints on where to look for information to complete projects. There is a dedicated quiet study room on the first floor which is regularly packed with secondary school students doing homework or preparing for state exams. With free Wi-Fi available throughout the building and access to 14 fixed broadband public computers, the students are well equipped with all the technology they need to succeed.
Library membership is free and this includes access not only to the range of physical materials in Arklow library – such as books, audio books, CDs, DVDs – but also provides access to a range of e-resources including e-books, e-audio books, language learning, magazines online, national and international newspapers online. The library catalogue is now a national catalogue meaning items can be borrowed from any location within Ireland and delivered to Arklow for free.
The library is very committed to developing its outreach programme and over the past year three book clubs have been initiated, one of which is held in the evening, and with new members are always welcome. On Thursday evenings, the Knitting and Crochet group meet and are currently knitting items for premature babies and orphans in Uganda as part of a national campaign sponsored by Shaws. Twice monthly, the library holds Art Therapy classes for service users of Sunbeam House Ballyraine.
Every Saturday is Family Fun Day at the library. Children and their parents drop in anytime from 10.30am to 1pm to enjoy arts and crafts, story time, games and fun. A new Parent and Toddler Group meet in the library on Monday mornings from 10.30-11.30am while the Library Community Room is available to a range of local Community Groups and Support Groups.
This year marks the centenary of a major event in Arklow: the explosion at the Kynoch Munitions factory in 1917. The library will be hosting a number of events to mark this occasion with local historian Pat Power
.The new library boasts an impressive physical space which has received many accolades. The impressive interlinking study room, gallery and reading room on the first floor has hosted many events throughout the year. On Culture Night last September, over 150 people attended three different events there while listening to the music of Sacred Sounds soaring through the atrium situated in the centre of the building. Another memorable event marking the 50th anniversary of Ronnie Delaney’s Gold Medal Olympic win was celebrated at the library earlier this year.
Commenting on these impressive figures, the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Fitzgerald, said that this footfall of almost 100,000 patrons has re-invigorated Arklow’s Main Street and businesses have seen an increased turnover. The Council’s Chief executive, Mr Bryan Doyle, added his own congratulations and stated that the new library was only one of a number of exciting capital investments planned for Arklow.
Last summer, in response to the needs of the local community, a gallery hanging system was installed on the first floor. This space is free to use for exhibitions by talented painters and photographers from the local community. It has been a huge success and is fully booked to the end of 2017.
The library service is grateful for all the support they have received from the local community over the past year.