The pandemic has built a global consciousness about what we need and what is expendable for us. These days have been a roller coaster: a lot of questions, loneliness and nostalgia; but also, more time for ourselves, for introspection and reflection. Generally, quarantine has become a difficult and unstable situation that has considerably affected culture.
As one of our most valuable resources we must ask, how did the pandemic affect Dublin public libraries? What have they done to survive the virus? Mairéad Owens –a Dublin City librarian– said “Libraries are not bound by buildings. We are still the go-to-place, at the heart of the community – only now we are at the heart of the digital community”. Digitization of a library’s content is not so easy due to its breadth but it is a sure way to preserve knowledge.
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Results of the pandemic
Mr. Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, has found that there has been a rise in numbers across all Dublin library services during the pandemic. The data show that there has been a surprising increase in users of the online library service since the pandemic began. Compared to the same period last year, there has been a near doubling of new library memberships during the pandemic: over 30,000 new members joined the library in March 2020 compared to just over 17,000 in March 2019. Furthermore, there has been a considerable rise in usage of specific library services in the week starting on the 29th March compared to the beginning of March:
- 313% increase in new users of eBooks and eAudiobooks service
- 467% increase in e-learning courses being taken
- 227% increase in language courses being taken
- 246% increase in usage of the online newspapers/e-magazines
Mr. Michael Ring TD, whose department is responsible for public libraries, concluded: “This increase in usage of our online library services shows the benefits that people are getting from our libraries during this crisis. While the doors of our public libraries are temporarily closed, it’s great to see that people are availing of the vast array of reading and educational material online.
The new normal
Actually, almost all local libraries have opened as normal, having adapted to the new normality. They will be open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday, here is a list which shows the ones that are open now, and opening in the future.
- Ballyfermot Library
- Ballymun Library
- Cabra Library
- Coolock Library
- Pearse Street Library
- Pembroke Library
- Raheny Library
- Rathmines Library
- Terenure Library
- Walkinstown Library
In conclusion, libraries are one of our most widely available sources of entertainment and knowledge. It is great to see that they have managed to adapt, survive and thrive within the current global state. They are one of our most valuable resources and will continue to be in the future.