Major changes have been made to all Cork County Council libraries in recent years.
One of the biggest changes has been the abolition of fines on overdue items, including books and DVDs, since the start of this year.
Skibbereen library’s executive librarian Linda McEvoy told The Southern Star last week: ‘We are delighted the fines are gone. Our focus is on encouraging people to read, not putting people off by putting up barriers, so the more barriers that are taken away, the better.’
There is now no charge to become a library member and there is never a charge for the many events, talks or workshops that are regularly held in the libraries around the county.
Skibbereen library, one of the busiest libraries in the region, has almost 16,000 books on its shelves.
In 2018 the library had a total of 2,442 members, 825 of these being under 18 years old, and issued 90,829 books.
Ms McEvoy said that Cork County Libraries’ main focus is the community. ‘The main thing we want to highlight is that as well as being a library we see ourselves as a community space and that’s our focus, we are here to inspire, support and empower people … free open and accessible to all.’
There are now many online services available for library members, such as free wifi and access to the Irish newspaper archives at any branch library. From home, members can access online the many e-books, e-magazines, e-audiobooks and trade journals available.
Some other services available to members include online courses, ranging from accounting to psychology, as well as online language courses. All these online resources are available for members on the Cork County Library app.
The library is still a great social outlet for people, with many activities available running all throughout the year, such as book clubs, creative writing groups, a summer reading scheme and knitting and crotchet groups.
One of the library’s main aims is to develop reading and literacy skills. Many children’s craft workshops are available at your local library.
‘There are a lot of national programmes for children, like the children’s book festival,’ added Ms McEvoy. ‘If they’re doing a gardening workshop we get them to read a book on how to grow your own seeds, so you’re tying it in all the time and developing both their hobbies and arts and craft skills, but also their reading skills at the same time.’
Some other children’s events at the library include author visits, story times, puppet shows and children’s colouring. Last year Skibbereen library welcomed children from local schools with over 40 class visits and it holds an annual library quiz for primary schools.
Ms McEvoy described the library as ‘a way of connecting with people’ and pointed out that the reading of daily and weekly newspapers is still a very popular pastime in every library.
Another initiative recently launched by the Cork County Library, entitled A Sound Initiative, allows various musical instruments to be ordered from a local branch and borrowed for up to three weeks. Participants in the scheme can use it to see if the instrument suits them before investing in an instrument of their own.
Another popular initiative at the libraries is part of the ‘Healthy Ireland’ events and is called Mood Food.
This workshop is about the relationship between gut bacteria, diet and our mental health, and visits the Skibbereen library on Thursday April 11th.
‘The library is somewhere to meet people and share similar interests … we are trying to give people space just to sit and chat and meet,’ Ms McEvoy concluded.
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