Libraries Unlimited

A Strategic Direction for Dublin City Libraries 2019-2023

Language Version: English / As Gaeilge

Strategic Direction

Our Library Spaces
Intended Impact
Strengthen Connections in Communities

The capacity of our service to engage individuals and communities is directly related to the quality of our infrastructure. Library spaces are multi-purpose community facilities that contribute to place-making and community connection. They are vibrant, accessible and open places for meeting, learning and inspiration. These spaces and the digital infrastructure that sustains and animates them are as fundamental to our service as our collections and our staff. We must be agile in response to a fast changing environment and ensure robust infrastructure and networks support the growing digital library as well as improving and expanding the physical network. This is central to our ambition for the next five years.


  • We will work to deliver the City Library, Parnell Square Cultural Quarter during the lifetime of this plan.
  • We will maintain and improve our branch network of twenty-one libraries, carrying out a rolling programme of refurbishments and investing in day-to-day maintenance and accessibility.
  • We will complete major refurbishment projects at Coolock and Inchicore and bring re-development plans for Finglas and Terenure to an advanced stage of stage of design.
  • We will expand our branch network with new libraries by identifying and acquiring sites for libraries in Crumlin-Drimnagh and the Northern Fringe of the City.
  • We will ensure our ICT infrastructure is up-to-date, robust and fit for purpose by investing in equipment and software and implementing replacement programmes as required.
  • We will embrace the opportunities created by new and emerging technologies, keeping pace with our users’ expectations for cutting edge digital technologies.

Our shelves and online
Intended Impact
Mediate content to broaden horizons and engage the public

We select and buy books and many other resources in all sorts of diverse formats to meet the needs of library users, responding to demands and meeting many different needs. We work to deliver sustainable and customer driven collections, using digital media to provide opportunities for those who cannot read standard print and who have never been able to use public libraries fully, or for whom print is not the dominant way of accessing knowledge. Our collections support the pursuit of pleasure, leisure, learning, business, information and life-long learning. The digital shift has already put the library in every pocket, reflecting the speed of change to mobile connection and interaction, as customers both consume and create digital content. We also create new content, mining our collections and working to animate and improve access to them for every reader.


  • We will manage, maintain and build on existing collections, both print and online, and develop new collections.
  • We will source new technologies and content in new formats to meet the needs of the widest possible audience
  • We will develop the range of online resources and services available for free to library patrons in-house and remotely, 24/7. We will increase remote and in-branch take up these resources and services for work, leisure, learning and creativity purposes.
  • We will promote access to, and use of, the widest possible range of digital library and archive collections and resources both locally and online.

Our Dublin
Intended Impact
Celebrate Dublin’s uniqueness in heritage, history and culture

We deliver a range of services and initiatives that are uniquely of and about Dublin. We work to support Dublin City Council’s vision for Dublin as ‘the best place in which to be, to live, to work, to do business and to enjoy. A city that has everything by being friendly, progressive, different and brilliant.’

We do this by developing services that respond to the conditions of the city and to the needs of our citizens as well as showcasing Dublin as an innovative and creative City, with a rich culture. We will cherish and promote the Irish Language. We are proud of our City and we want to continue to celebrate and share Dublin’s unique stories and innovate to deliver interesting experiences for our library users.


  • We will continue preserve, share and promote the record of Dublin and Irish heritage, enable historical research and build awareness of the Library and Archive as the memory of the City.
  • We work to celebrate Dublin’s unique literary culture and status through the written and spoken word and strive to support creativity and sustainability from writer to reader, building on the city’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.
  • We will actively lead and contribute to collaborative projects locally in Dublin as well as internationally among the members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and work to achieve UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals in the planning of activities.
  • We will support Dublin’s position as a learning and innovative city by offering learners a lifelong engagement with informal, non-formal and formal learning activities and provide resources, staff facilitation and assistance from external partners to help library users achieve their learning goals.

Our libraries as trusted, active community spaces
Intended Impact
Recognise capacity and extend what’s possible as a cultural resource in local communities

Our libraries have an increasingly important role as cultural spaces offering open, non-authoritarian and non-commercial public cultural space in the increasingly privatised urban environment of the capital city. Each library is a cultural hub, where users spend time and enjoy the library’s different services as well as borrowing books and other materials. For many people public libraries are becoming a “living room in the city” as well as a location for self-directed learning. We will work to activate our spaces with innovative programmes, events and services that inspire learning and participation, encouraging people to use libraries in many different ways and at various life stages. We will strive to offer an array of cultural engagement and interactions to connect people with the world of information and ideas. Live music, poetry, art, dance, theatre, exhibitions, writing, and many more are all cultural activities that happen in our libraries. A strong underlying theme in all of our programming is the encouragement and development of readers and a reading culture. We will explore multiple ways of extending the connection between readers and books and between authors and readers.


  • We will co-ordinate an annual calendar of culture events and learning programmes where citizens can develop and flourish through shared experiences. Our library events will compliment national library initiatives such as through:
    • Healthy Ireland @ Your Library
    • Right to Read
    • Work Matters @ Your Library
  • We will present programmes and festivals reflecting on The Decade of Commemorations.
  • We will ensure that every child has an opportunity to be a reader and every child can become a library member. We will do this by developing a children’s services strategy during the lifetime of this plan. We want all children from birth to experience the magic of reading and discovery that libraries offer. We will support whole families with their literacy and reading journey.
  • We will support local initiative and programmes and strive to be responsive to local interests and opportunities, cooperating with local, organisations and communities.
  • We will review opening hours in our libraries with a view to optimising public hours consistent with resources and local demand.

Our People
Intended Impact
Develop the capacity of staff so that our library network is sustained and enriched

Libraries are about people, the people that use them and the people that staff them. Our Library users tell us that the help and expertise of our staff is one of the most important aspects in their satisfaction with the service. We will ensure that our libraries are staffed with welcoming, well trained, reliable, flexible staff, capable of responding to the changing needs of citizens. We will do this by providing a supportive environment for staff that encourages creativity and innovation within our teams.

The success of our service depends on having staff with a ‘can do’ attitude who work alongside the customer and who embrace change. Our modern libraries require a rich range of knowledge and skills: the experience and knowledge of the professional librarian, digital and information technology expertise, teaching skills, and knowledge and experience of community engagement and development.

We want our staff to reflect the make-up of the communities they serve, to be inter-culturally competent and to use their skills, talents and interest for the wider benefit of customers and communities. We understand that it is vital that career development opportunities are provided to ensure staff grow and develop professionally.


  • We will work to secure the funding to recruit staff to maintain staff numbers required to deliver library services, recruiting staff with a rich range of strong skills and a ‘can do’ attitude that embraces change
  • We will foster a learning culture for individual and organisational improvement and provide continuing development opportunities for staff throughout their careers. In particular we will ensure that library staff have the necessary support and training in the use of the digital technologies and on line resources
  • We will develop workforce planning and talent management to ensure we have the best people to succeed, with a particular focus on developing leadership at all levels in the organisation to build the confidence of staff so they feel trusted to lead change.

Our friends and partners
Intended Impact
Consolidate our partnership and collaborative work with organisations and initiatives

We will achieve our vision with a strong commitment to collaboration and co-operation. We will develop partnerships across sectors and agencies, seeking others with similar aspirations and goals to extend the effective reach of our services. We will work to be worthwhile and expert partners across a range of shared endeavours, knowing that we can achieve more together with others than on our own. In forging these relationships and networks we will gain leverage to deliver more than we are able to separately, as well as access to ideas that complement our expertise. We will develop these partnerships within the City Council, with the wider community, and with agencies across regional, national and international networks so that we collaborate on cultural initiatives and engage with citizens to enhance the social, cultural and economic life of the city


  • We will partner with organisations in a strategic and sustainable manner to deliver national policies and programmes to a high standard while using our own local expertise.
  • We will work with a range of colleagues and partners to ensure that new Dublin City library projects, including the new City Library, achieve best practice in all areas and meet our users’ growing expectations.
  • We will inspire communities to realise their creative potential through the Creative Ireland programme while ensuring that our libraries are active cultural centres, uniquely positioned to offer cultural developments and events that are more than just the traditional public reading by authors.
  • We will continue to support the national Library Management System (LMS) on an agency basis.
  • We will continue to work in partnership locally, nationally and Internationally to deliver programmes including Dublin UNESCO City of Literature programmes, Healthy Ireland @ your Library, Work Matters @ your Library and the Right to Read