Free books, events, and no penalties. Join a library in Ireland

If one joins a library in their community, they can use all libraries in Ireland.

Ireland has come up with an uncommon way of managing libraries in an effort of luring more people back to these once highly respected educational institutions.

A shared library management system, Libraries Ireland, makes it possible for any public library card holder to reserve and borrow items from any public library in Ireland. Patrons can even return borrowed items to a library from where they had not borrowed them. For example, a book borrowed in Clondalkin can be returned to a Galway library.

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A group of 30 libraries are part of the unique service. Books and other items are collected and delivered twice a week. In addition, libraries decided to scrap fines in early 2019.

A free membership

Joining a library, moreover, does not cost people anything. All potential patrons need to present just proof of their current address in Ireland and their ID. Registration can be done in a public library or online. A membership lasts one year. To fully enjoy all library services people, nonetheless, need to pick up their card.

For instance, people can borrow one item right away after online registration but up to 12 with the card. Patrons can even use a self-service kiosk to borrow items.

Speaking of library items, libraries store not just books but also DVDs, e-books, newspapers, audiobooks, graphic novels, or even music. Library users can check the availability of a single item online as well. When it comes to music, the main music collection is located in the Music Library at the Ilac Shopping Centre in central Dublin.

Library users can attend a palette of free events as well. Check out events at Dublin  libraries here.

Apart from usual services such as free access to computers and the Internet, Irish libraries also run a home delivery service and a prison library service.

No fines

Part of Our Public Library 2022: inspiring, connecting and empowering communities is also the removal of fines for overdue fines. This measure came into force on January 1, 2019, scrapping also fines existing before this date.

“Library charges have been shown to have a detrimental effect on library use by children and the disadvantaged,” the strategy reads.

It also states there was no evidence that fines would ensure returns on time. It rather dissuaded people from returning the books. Although there are no fines today, patrons continue to receive reminders and overdue emails to prompt them to return books and other items to the nearest library. After a third reminder, a patron’s card is blocked until overdue items are returned.

Reminder emails are sent as follows:

  • 3 Days Before Due Date: Reminder Email
  • 1 Day after Due Date: Reminder Email
  • 3 Weeks after Due Date: Reminder Email
  • 9 Weeks after Due Date: Item considered lost, card borrowing privileges blocked and user requested to present to the library

However, if an item is returned to the library damaged or is not returned because of having been lost, a patron will be required to replace such an item or pay a replacement charge. This excludes children’s items.

Library users are also charged for photocopying and computer printouts.

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Peter Dlhopolec
Peter Dlhopolec

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