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Internet, Books and Games

Clare Champion, Friday, 10th December 1999

Unlike many other local organisations or clubs, it does not have high profile within the local community but nevertheless, Newmarket Library boasts a huge membership and provides an important service on a social and educational level. More than 500 adults and children can borrow from thousands of fiction and non-fiction titles but this is but one dimension of the services provided at the Clare County Council branch library.

The latest addition to the library are four personal computers linked to the Internet which can be accessed free of charge. Users can avail of high speed ISDN lines to surf the net and set up hot mail accounts to contact family and friends at home and abroad. Newmarket is one of sixteen libraries throughout the county where over fifty Internet PCs have been installed. The launch of the Internet project at Newmarket follows on the successful Net Days a few weeks ago where people were able to visit a mobile unit for an introduction to the service.

The facility is primarily aimed at those who do not have Internet at home but users who have Internet at home can establish a link-up. It's all about demystifying the Internet and training will be provided where necessary, according to librarian Irene Jones. The level of knowledge among local people about the Internet has been increased through classes run by Obair. Irene says the Internet opens up huge possibilities for library members, with the younger members drawing heavily on it for research cross a wide spectrum of subjects while adults are more inclined to use it for contacting people. Although only in operation for a very short time, it is already being very well used, according to Irene.

On the educational front, for the past three years Newmarket Library has joined up with Obair to run a homework project for primary schools. From 5:30 to 6:30 each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening up to twenty children do their homework at the library under the supervision of a number of voluntary supervisors. Obair also runs a study programme for second level students at its offices and the participants are supervised by leaders who have completed a special course at Mary Immaculate College.

In order to cultivate an interest in reading among children, Newmarket Library organises visits to the five primary schools in the parish. They encourage the children to visit the Library, which has free membership up to eighteen, and particular classes have monthly visits.

The storytime slot on Tuesday afternoons from 2:30 to 3:15 features readings from popular children's books, games and making jigsaws. There are also arts and crafts events at Easter and Halloween and Book Week runs in November. Over the next couple of weeks children will be encouraged to participate in the annual Christmas craft project and there will be categories for 4 to 8 and 8 to 12 years.

More adults in the area are also being encouraged to join up and in particular they are trying to highlight the value of the library to retired people who have free membership. To this extent they have spent in excess of 3,000 to upgrade the adult fiction section, Irene points out. The library is also someplace where people can relax and read the daily papers, local papers and magazines.

Newmarket Library is open from Tuesday to Saturday and is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Irene Jones, Library Assistant and Conor Ryan surfing the Net at Newmarket-on-Fergus Library
Irene Jones, Library Assistant and Conor Ryan
surfing the Net at Newmarket-on-Fergus Library

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