Carlow County Council Library Service has a network of 4 branches across the county of Carlow. They are Carlow Central Library & HQ, Tullow Library, Bagenalstown Library and Borris library. The Local History, Archives and Genealogy services operate from the Central Library and Headquarters in Carlow Town. We aim to provide a public library service, serving people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability. We provide a full range of information resources needed to live, learn, and work. We are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills they need to thrive in the society. Also, our libraries are places for community engagement. Our mission is to enrich our communities and improve quality of life for its citizens and we do that by offering technologies, tools and resources to help people succeed. We have a compliment of 20 staff in total, split between part-time and full-time.

Library membership is completely free of charge for everyone in every library in the country. We offer a national public library catalogue of 17 million items supported by a nationwide delivery service – items can be ordered online or in person and delivered quickly to the local library, for free. Our libraries provide a welcoming community space where we can share diverse cultural experiences and perspectives as our society evolves to embrace new communities and cultures. The library service also has a longstanding and important role in the promotion of literature and the Irish language.

We offer much more than books,  providing patrons of all ages a rich menu of CDs and DVDs, audiobooks, and online resources such as ebooks, eaudiobooks, online learning (access over 500 online courses) online language learning, online encyclopaedia and much more. We provide a range of services to our local schools (class visits, block loan facilities for teachers, events for schools…). Our current initiative with the schools around the county is the Library Ninja Challenge. It aims to get children reading and talking about books and how useful the library is. Each participating school has been provided with books and promotional materials.   

We deliver national programmes: Work Matters, Right to Read and Healthy Ireland at your library.    

  • Through Work Matter we support entrepreneurs, jobseekers, career change and businesses.We have a broad collection (digital and hardcopy), relating to business and employment including how to build a CV and interview skills, as well as daily newspapers, PCs and online access to help search for employment opportunities. We run employment and business-related events throughout the year.   
  • Healthy Ireland, a Government-led initiative, is the national strategy to improve health and wellbeing. We have a broad collection of health and wellbeing book collections (digital and hardcopy). We organize talks, discussions and workshops with a focus on physical health, mental health and health literacy.   
  • Right to Read: we promote literacy and reading development for people of all ages and backgrounds. It currently includes four national programmes designed to promote children’s reading and literacy. These are: Spring into Story Time, Summer Stars, Children Book Festival and Family Time at Your Library. A research project on Adult Literacy in Carlow is currently underway to be followed by a local awareness campaign and steps towards making Carlow a Literacy Friendly County. Carlow County Council Library Service initiated and managed Story Streets, a family literacy research project set in three disadvantaged communities in Carlow, where we encouraged families to read together, encouraged non library users to join and start to use their local public library,  helped library staff to improve the ways they involved people in their local public library, and developed a learning model to help community development. The annual Summer Stars children’s reading programme takes place in June across all Irish Public Libraries and runs for the summer months. Summer Stars is the public library national summer reading programme for children that runs from the 15th of June until the end of August. All children throughout the country are invited to join the adventure and to enjoy the fun and pleasure of reading and writing over the summer. Summer Stars is non-competitive and every child who reads even one book is regarded as having completed the programme – and it’s all completely free! 

Carlow County Council libraries organise events for children and adults throughout the year (now, all the events are online) such as author talks, story time, and other themed events such as:   

January: First Fortnight 

February : Engineers Week 

March: Local Enterprise Week and World Poetry Day

April: Spring into Story time and National Tree Week 

May: Bealtaine, Biodiversity week and Poetry Day Ireland

June: Cruinniú na nÓg  

July & August: Summer Stars, September, Culture Night, Heritage Week 

October: Children’s Book Festival, Mental Health Awareness Month, Halloween Events   

November: Science Week   

December: Library Ireland Week, Regular Christmas events & Family Time at Your Library

Text by Elena Puyo-Valverde