Opening hours at Arklow Library are to double from 49 hours a week to 98 hours. The Library will be open from 8am until 10pm every day, 365 days a year.
The move is part of the “My Open Library” initiative which is being rolled out nationwide in the library service.
The extended opening hours in Arklow will be of particular benefits to students for study time as they prepare for exams.
Speaking at the launch of the service, the Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District, Cllr Miriam Murphy, congratulated all involved for ensuring the new service was available over the Easter school holidays, as it was a very important time for students preparing for their summer exams.
She acknowledged Wicklow County Council’s foresight in providing for a security presence during unstaffed hours as this would ensure greater safety and reassurance for the public.
Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, thanked County Librarian, Brendan Martin; Claire Fullam and Arklow library staff and Director of Services, Michael Nicholson, for working on the venture. He also acknowledged the financial support received from the Department of Community and Rural Development and the support from the FÓRSA union.
The “My Open Libraries” approach to public library services has been in place in a number of European countries since 2004. It extends opening hours to library members during unstaffed hours while continuing to provide regular staffed periods for ongoing delivery of the service, supporting users and developing community engagement and programming.
The service was piloted in Tullamore, Co Offaly and Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, in recent years. Based on results from the pilot phase, it was recommended that the service should be extended nationwide, with at least one “My Open Library” service in each local authority.
Users visited the libraries for a variety of purposes, including study, WiFi access, printing and borrowing items. Feedback from the public and staff has been very positive with users valuing the service more, respecting the civic space and displaying a stronger sense of community ownership of the library.
In this regard, Wicklow County Council selected Arklow library to be its pilot. The Council had already invested €3.5m in the new Arklow library which opened in April 2016. Statistics show over 5,000 people are borrowing over 90,000 items each year. This was an increase from an average of 35,000-40,000 annually in the former Arklow library.
Anyone wishing to use “My Open Library “should call into Arklow library and register for the service. They will be given full details along with a guided tour of the facilities. Users of the service must be over 18, but those aged 16 -17 may avail of the service with consent of parent or guardian.