News & Media

Libraries a crucial part of Literacy Ireland proposal

4 March 2021

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
  • Each child should receive a library membership card
  • To encourage first trip, each child should get a Book-to-Keep from their library
  • Opening hours should be extended to Saturday and Sunday

 Celebrating World Book Day, Labour has called on the Government to invest in Ireland’s library network to improve access to books and literacy skills. Building on the success of its Right to Read initiative, Labour has called for the introduction of a Literacy Ireland programme.

To unlock the untapped potential of our libraries as community hubs, Labour is calling for all local authorities to provide membership cards to primary school children and invite them to choose a Book-to-Keep on their first visit. Calling on Government to push this strategy forward, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD urged Government to focus its plans for libraries throughout our communities.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Books are instrumental to unlocking a lifelong commitment to discovery and are central in the ongoing development of every person’s literacy skills. While all children’s literacy may be impacted by school closures and a lack of access to books, these closures have disproportionately hit disadvantaged and vulnerable students.

“OECD studies show that poverty and low literacy are two sides of the same coin, and lead to the perpetuation of inequality later in life. That’s why we must be strategic about fixing literacy rates in Ireland and have a joined-up government approach on this, with a particular focus on people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“That’s why we are calling on Government to develop our Literacy Ireland programme to enhance the role of libraries as a community focal point. Only 755,000 Irish people are members of their local libraries right now. We need to reach out and pull people into this resource, particularly young people.

“In a year where children have not had the same opportunity to browse the aisles of their school library, Labour want to see a scheme introduced to encourage children throughout the country to make a trip to their library to encourage a lifelong love for books. A tangible community approach, this will improve literacy skills in a targeted way. Providing each child with a membership card and the offer of a Book-to-Keep will stimulate community participation.

“In addition, we need to extend library opening hours, particularly at weekends when most people have the time to use and enjoy them. We need to rethink and reimagine the potential of our libraries which could be developed as local resource hubs not just for bookworms and students but also for those seeking training, work and even to set up their own business

“We need to create a fairer starting point for children and help eradicate illiteracy through early intervention at the primary and secondary school level. Reading is for life, not just World Book Day. Let’s give every child in Ireland a right to read rooted in their local library.”