Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 27 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Library Service.

Mr. Dennehy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department has given for the provision of library facilities over the past ten years; his plans to enhance the public library service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7485/07]

  Mr. Roche: The Government has provided some €90.2 million, through my Department towards the local authority public library service over the years 1997 to 2006.

On foot of this expenditure, supplemented by local authorities from their own resources, 57 new library buildings were opened by the end of 2006. In addition, the investment has also contributed to the provision and development of ICT including:

automation of the public library service,

cataloguing,

1,400 public access Internet PCs,

optical scanning facilities,

colour printers to allow printing of OSI maps.

The development and population of the Ask About Ireland website and the digitisation of library authorities’ local studies material has also been supported.

The library service was the subject of a major review in 1997/1998, which resulted in the publication of Branching Out: A New Public Library Service in 1998. This report put forward a series of recommendations designed to bring the public library service into the 21st century. One of the key recommendations in the report was that an eight-year capital programme be undertaken and that recommendation, along with the others in the report, was approved by Government.

A full review of Branching Out, in the light of Ireland’s current economic and social climate, is [840] currently nearing completion. On the basis of this review, I will shortly be publishing an updated policy and vision for the public library service over the next 6 years.