3. Monaghan County Council Library Services, Monaghan, Ireland  partner

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Monaghan County Library Services, is a public library service within Monaghan County Council structure. The service consists of a network of 5 Branch Libraries in the 5 main towns, a HQ and 1 mobile library which visit the various preschools, primary schools, villages throughout the County on a weekly basis. We have a staff compliment of 24. 

Monaghan County Library Services makes available a wide range of services to the general public – book lending, research facilities, public internet access, local history & genealogy service, schools service, outreach service, reader development, community development, assistive technology services.  We have a broad range of expertise in our staffing, from specific IT skills, literacy development, planning and coordination skills, budget management etc.  Staff are continually provided with up to date training courses on various aspects of library service delivery. 

County Monaghan is situated along the border with Northern Ireland. Due to the 'border', the county has suffered economically, socially and educationally over the years. These areas are still deemed as disadvantaged areas today. The county has had a high rate of early school leavers over the years, which has resulted in low level educational achievement by many. Unemployment has increased due to the recession and for those with little or no education qualifications, this is proving to be an obstacle in searching for jobs. 

The demand and need for library services in County Monaghan, especially in the current climate, has increased significantly. There is increasing demands from the public to use our range of services, especially those which are free. We are a very important element in many people’s lives in a social and cultural context. Every day we assist someone in gaining information, access to a service, enlightening their lives.

Our library service is very suitable to participate in this project, especially in the current economic climate. We have seen a demographic change in the clientale who use our libraries, that is, we have a lot of unemployed people using our libraries to access our various services, in assisting them, where best possible, in helping them to gain employment or access to education. We particularly have a high number of men, who have become unemployed due to the collapse of the building industry, using the service – some to simply read the daily newspaper to check if any jobs are available. Our participation in this project, along with our local partners and EU partners, will bring added value in developing a coordinated plan, by sharing our experiences and issues, on both a local and national level. 

The staff from Monaghan Libraries involved in developing the project have years of experience in managing and coordinating projects for the library service, that is managing budgets, planning & coordinating project activities, report writing, evaluation. We have managed EU funded Peace & Reconciliation projects, of which one project being allocated €169,000 and it ran over 18 months. We are currently working with Monaghan Integrated Development, local NGO, in a pilot Back to Education project, aimed at the unemployed and in conjunction with National University of Ireland, Maynooth. This is a 8 month pilot project, where 20 unemployed people are given the opportunity to participate in a number of modules i.e. Local history, Research, IT,  - it is a ‘taster’ course to let them experience what it is like to attend college, complete assignments, participate in group work and work alone as an individual.