Cork County Council’s Library and Arts Services Respond and Innovate

27 March 2021
By Tom Collins

Cork County Council’s Library and Arts Service has achieved record activity, membership and performance in 2020, reinforcing its role in the community response to Covid 19.

Shortly after the announcement of restrictions in Ireland in March 2020, the Council’s Library Service began the delivery of books to isolating and cocooning members of the community. A team of five Library Service Drivers took to the roads on 27th March 2020 launching the Library Housebound Delivery Service. Initiated as part of the Council’s Covid 19 Community Response Programme, the service provided 36,090 items to homes across the county in 2020. To date over 4,000 boxes have been delivered, with this figure growing daily as library staff continue to keep in contact with readers, help choose their books and pack boxes for safe delivery.

Clare Fogarty, Library Assistant in Mallow.
Pic: Brian Lougheed

Cork County Library branches also saw their combined membership increase from 59,024 in 2019 to 65,356 in 2020. 669,463 physical items from Cork County branches were circulated, and 393,455 online resources were accessed by members, placing Cork County’s Library outputs second in the Republic of Ireland only to Dublin City.

E-audiobooks and e-books saw substantial increases in usership, with the former rising by 86.7% and the latter by 103.8%, as library staff promoted use of these resources and provided assistance to all members in overcoming accessibility obstacles such as digital literacy.

The library further rose to the challenges presented in 2020 by producing original content in the form of its Library Podcast for members, which is available on Soundcloud or through the Library section of, and by adopting video conferencing platforms to deliver events, workshops and meetups safely.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley welcomed the ongoing success of the Library Service, particularly at a time when these services were so valued by many,

“Cork County Council was quick to adapt to these changing circumstances, the work of library staff ensuring that the needs of the community were met has been nothing short of exemplary. As we approach the first anniversary of the Council’s Library Housebound Delivery Service, it is clear to see that this resource has proved invaluable to the people of Cork County over the past twelve months. Our countywide library network is an incredible community resource, providing space to learn, relax, grow and connect with one another. Both library staff and members have shown clearly the value that our libraries play in community life in Cork County.”

Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey said;

“The publication of figures on Cork County Council’s Library Service reflects the vast array of services available, which were adapted rapidly in 2020 in order to safely serve our community during a time of great need. The Council will strive to continue to deliver such excellent levels of service, responsiveness and innovation for our residents.”

The Library Housebound Service is available by contacting your local Library.

Cork County Council’s Community Support Helpline is also available on 1800 805 819, text 085 870 9010 or email If you are calling from outside Ireland for a friend or relative contact +353 21 4285517.

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