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Triple the fun for bookworms

Clare Champion, Friday 18th July, 2003

History was made on Wednesday of last week when Clare County Council, represented by then Mayor of Clare Richard Nagle, officially opened three new libraries on the same day. It is believed that this is a first for any library authority, and the occasion was made all the more unique by the opening of a virtual public library in Cranny, also believed to be the first of its kind in the world. The partnership between the library authority and Clare VEC was praised by the Minister for Education, Mr. Noel Dempsey, recently.

The virtual library is housed in the Cranny Rural Renewal Centre, while the new library in Kilmihil is based in the Community Centre, a convenient location considering the centre already houses a diverse range of other services. The new facility in Kildysart, meanwhile, sees a significant increase in internet services, which brings a whole new dimension to the service provided.

The library service to Kildysart and district has had a strange and interesting history, beginning with the withdrawal of facilities in March 1935 pending the return of missing books. A warning that the cost must be paid for by members if the books were not returned obviously fell on deaf ears, because it was a full 17 years before the next mention of Kildysart in the library committee minutes, when it was put forward as a possible site for a new library. In that same year (1952), new adult centres were opened in Kildysart and Cranny. A library centre in that time was a collection of books, very often placed in a local person’s house, and was purely voluntary. Four years later the County Manager agreed to make provision to provide a branch library at Kildysart, but it took until 1963 before a premises was found when a small room was leased from the late Michael O’Grady.

Services have travelled an enormous way since then, with the groundbreaking virtual library at Cranny going into operation with a view to discovering new ways of delivering service to geographically disadvantaged places. This is now possible through the advanced technology developed by the Clare County Library over the last number of years. Library services such as catalogues, book promotions and so on will be delivered regularly. Free internet access is also available.

Librarians from Nova Scotia, Canada, recently visited Clare to study and learn from the local library system. They now hope to get involved in a joint project. This group was preceded by another from Norway on a similar mission.

The entire community is well catered for in these fine facilities, which add greatly to the quality of life in the area.

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