Govt invests additional €200,000 in eBooks and eAudiobooks in response to increased demand for online public library service – Minister Ring

Libraries register huge increase in online membership and usage
Over 500 new members a day since closure of public libraries
E-book loans have more than doubled since March 12th


Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has announced a further investment of €200,000 to support the provision of additional eBooks and eAudiobooks in order to meet the significant increase in demand for access to the public library online service during the COVID-19 crisis. This is in addition to the already allocated €200,000 which was invested at the beginning of the crisis.


The Minister also announced a fund of €20,000 to support the provision of an EasyReader collection of books for emerging adult readers and people with literacy needs.


The funding will be directed through the Local Government Management Agency.


Announcing the funding, Minister Ring said,

“Since the public libraries closed on March 12th the levels of usage of our online library services has soared and is at unpredented levels. Feedback from users continues to be extremely positive and to help boost the online resources I am delighted to increase my Department’s contribution to online resources from €200,000 to €400,000.


“This is the second investment of €200,000 and since the first investment in late March nearly 21,000 new members have registered on Borrowbox, the service which allows access to the eBooks and eAudiobooks. This is nearly three times as many people as registered for the service during the first two months of the year so it shows how important and popular the service is. I would encourage everyone to join the library. It is free to do so and you can join via the Libraries Ireland website.


“Since the closure of public libraries on 12th March there has been an average of 504 new members registering daily for the Borrowbox service which provides eBooks and eAudiobooks to library members, compared to the daily average of 138 that registered previously in 2020. This is a 264% increase and usage of the online services is now at unprecedented levels. The average number of daily eBook loans prior to March 12th was 1,106 but since then it is more than double that figure with a daily average of 2,502.”


Minister Ring added:
“I am also delighted to support adult literacy by providing funding for the provision of a collection of EasyReaders which are an accessible format of books designed for emerging adult readers and people with literacy needs. The EasyReader format is easy to understand because it uses simple jargon-free language and shorter sentences. This initative has been developed in collaboration with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and is being rolled out as part of our national Right to Read Programme.”


Minister Ring added,
“I am also delighted to see that a number of local authorities are introducing a book delivery service to those cocooning. This is a very welcome addition and I would like to commend the local authorities who have reacted to this need and developed this highly valued outreach service.”


“Library staff are continuing to innovate online with STEAM Workshops, Virtual Coding Workshops, virtual bookclubs, and online storytimes. Another impressive initiative has been the delivery of the Spring into Storytime reading programme which would normally be held in libraries nationwide. As this was not possible this year due to the restrictions it is been delivered entirely online instead and the numbers have been outstanding with 302,787 views of the 476 storytime videos to date, compared to total attendances of 20,500 in the library branches during last year’s entire programme.“


Libraries are part of Phase Two of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business when they will commence a ‘contact and collect’ service in selected branches.




Daniel Rowan
Special Adviser to Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development
087 6177320

The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office
076-1006843 / 087-1734633 [email protected]



Notes to the Editor


Online public library services during COVID-19 crisis


Public libraries provide users with a wide range of free online services including eBooks, eAudiobooks, online newspapers and magazines, and member can do online courses or learn a language. All resources can be accessed online via:


Some of the more popular online services are:

• BorrrowBox – 35,803 e-books and 26,479 e-audiobooks.
• PressReader – provides more than 2,400 newspapers from over 100 countries worldwide including the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Sligo Champion and Daily Telegraph and nearly 4,000 magazines including Woman’s Own, Hot Press and Rugby World.
• RBdigital – Latest editions of over 350 international magazines including Hello!, The Economist and Time.
• Universal Class – which is available via: provides over 550 e-learning courses including computer classes and alternative medicine.
• Transparent Language – provides courses in 114 different languages, together with English courses for speakers of 32 different languages.


All of these services can be accessed by signing in with your library card number. You can phone your local library if your card needs to be reactivated or if you need any assistance. Contact details are available on:


You can join the library online and get eBooks, eAudiobooks, online magazines and newspapers for free straight away, or even do an online course or learn a language. Just follow the instructions below:

• Click on this link to join:
• Complete this form with your name, address, email and some other details:
• Click, ‘Submit’ and you’ll be taken to a new page that gives you a ‘Temporary’ library barcode.
• This will be your library number and you need it to access online services so save it somewhere or write it down and keep it safe.
• This page will also instruct you to ‘set a PIN’ and will give you a link to do that.
• Once you’ve set your PIN and you have your library number, you’re all ready to access all the online services.


Detailed instructions of how to register and access all of the online services are available here on the Libraries Ireland website and user guides for all services can be accessed at:


2020 Borrowbox usage

Jan 5 – Mar 12 Mar 13 to 20th May Pct. Increase
Average Daily New Borrowbox Users 136 504 272
Average Daily eBook loans 1,105 2,502 126
Average Daily eBook Reserves 522 1,574 202
Average Daily eAudibook Loans 1,484 2,407 62
Average Daily eAudiobook Reserves 755 1,415 87

BorrowBox users are offered a wide range of books across all genres incorporating both popular backlists and new releases. Users can search the collections by category including Irish authors, non-fiction or via adult, young adult and children’s collections or by subject such as history, sci-fi, business and health. New content is being added on a regular basis. Users can borrow/reserve five titles simultaneously using their library card.

The €200,000 investment will provide an additional 5,000 eBooks and eAudiobooks.


Right to Read Programme & EasyReaders

‘Reading and Literacy’ is one of the three strategic programmes set out in the Public Library Strategy ‘Our Public Libraries 2022’, reflecting the importance of the role that public libraries play in supporting literacy and reading development. The Right to Read Programme is the national initiative which supports reading and literacy development with an annual series of planned activities and supports. The initial focus of the Right to Read Programme was on the provision of services for children and families. However, the national Right to Read Steering Group has begun to look at the development of a consistent level of supports and services for adults with literacy issues and learning disabilities. One in six Irish adults (521,000 aged 16 to 64 years old) struggle with reading and understanding everyday text. Around 60,000 adults attend their local adult literacy services and many come back to learning to read stories and short texts. To help with this, it is important that adults have access to easy to read novels that are written by known authors and contain themes of interest to adults.


For 2020, the national Steering Group identified a number of priorities including providing and promoting access to EasyReaders, online resources, adult literacy material, and audiobook materials. EasyReaders are an accessible format of providing books designed for people with a learning disability or literacy issues. The EasyReader format is easy to understand because it uses simple, jargon free language, shorter sentences and may include supporting images.


There are only a small number of easy read adults books published for emerging adult readers, with only one series from Ireland – Open Door. New Island books publishes the Open Door series which is a series of novellas by bestselling Irish authors, curated by Patricia Scanlan for emerging readers. Over the last 18 years there have been 35 titles produced – see the list here The last new titles published was five years ago in 2015.


New Island is developing a new Open Door anthology of short stories for September 2020. Patricia Scanlan is curating it and has already got some great authors signed up, such as Roddy Doyle. The anthology will have around 30 authors with short stories and reflections. It will be launched around International Literacy Day (8 September).


Each library will have a number of these new short story books for emerging adult readers to borrow. They will also be of interest to other readers as short stories are popular reads.


NALA, New Island and DRCD will launch and promote the book and the love of reading during September. Adults with literacy needs and emerging readers will have access to a new book to read and enjoy.



Borrowbox Statistics by Local Authority January – April 2020

Local Authority Borrowbox users eAudio




Total Loans
Carlow Library 1,122 1,621 1,415 3,036
Cavan Library 1,124 1,860 1,896 3,756
Clare Library 2,618 4,891 4,293 9,184
Cork City Library 6,608 13,518 13,396 26,914
Cork County Library 10,000 18,319 16,202 34,521
Donegal Library 2,507 3,640 4,346 7,986
Dublin City Library 15,424 30,876 26,178 57,054
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown 5,864 11,720 9,317 21,037
Fingal Library 7,337 14,640 13,242 27,882
Galway Library 6,584 13,110 11,965 25,075
Kerry Library 3,226 5,821 5,715 11,536
Kildare Library 5,415 10,284 9,121 19,405
Kilkenny Library 2,960 4,972 4,137 9,109
Laois Library 1,227 2,377 2,083 4,460
Leitrim Library 546 1,253 985 2,238
Limerick Library 4,308 7,346 7,994 15,340
Longford Library 755 1,266 872 2,138
Louth Library 2,096 3,725 3,552 7,277
Mayo Library 2,635 5,152 5,025 10,177
Meath Library 4,365 6,892 6,240 13,132
Monaghan Library 1,429 1,833 1,411 3,244
Offaly Library 2,022 3,511 2,962 6,473
Roscommon Library 737 1,603 1,266 2,869
Sligo Library 1,899 3,748 3,158 6,906
South Dublin Library 6,720 11,837 10,927 22,764
Tipperary Library 3,638 5,814 6,329 12,143
Waterford Library 4,035 6,764 8,092 14,856
Westmeath Library 1,700 3,481 2,987 6,468
Wexford Library 5,825 9,419 8,299 17,718
Wicklow Library 4,647 10,927 7,393 18,320
Total 119,373 222,220 200,798 423,018
Average 3,979 7,407 6,693 14,101


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!