Home arrow News arrow 27/07/2006 New policy for delivering tomorrow's libraries
27/07/2006 New policy for delivering tomorrow's libraries PDF Print E-mail
Culture and Arts Minister, Maria Eagle, MP, has outlined details of a new policy on libraries of the future.

Speaking at the launch of 'Delivering Tomorrow's Libraries', the Minister said: "The library service for the 21st century should be flexible and responsive because society is changing and public services must adapt to match the changing needs of the public.

"Libraries should provide a focal point for social, cultural and economic life in the community. They should help people to expand their knowledge by providing a wealth of books and information, together with advice on how to use them. In short, public libraries should be for everyone, people of all ages, at every stage in their lives."

The Minister explained that 'Delivering Tomorrow's Libraries' covers the role of libraries in providing books, reference material and computers. Library buildings, mobile libraries, access to them and the staff skills required to meet the needs of different groups, are also addressed.

'Delivering Tomorrow's Libraries' also considers the hard to reach groups, such as young people and those with literacy difficulties. Libraries' ability to promote and facilitate lifelong learning is especially significant for those who may have missed out on education opportunities, or who are uncomfortable in formal learning situations.

The Minister continued: "Library buildings should be places that are easy to reach, in areas where everybody feels safe using them and where as many people as possible can get to them. They should be open at the hours when people are free to visit them.

"They should contain talking books, large print books and accessible computer equipment for those with vision impairment. Increasingly, they should be delivered in new ways, in particular electronically, so that people can get information and reference material held by libraries on a twenty four hour, seven day a week basis."

The new policy is the result of the consultation paper 'Northern Ireland's Libraries: a Framework for Change', Government's views on the priorities for the public library service which was published last October.

"Interest in the future of the library service was evident in that over one thousand people gave us their views in writing or on-line. Their views have been of great help as we have worked towards framing principles, priorities, and guidelines for the library service," the Minister added.

Referring to the Review of Public Administration and the decision to create a single regional library authority, the Minister said: "Legislation is currently being drawn up to establish the library authority in April 2008 and set out its functions. I believe that a new single body will have a new focus and a higher profile which will benefit the whole community."

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