One of Irish public libraries’ most valuable assets is their location – they are invariably to be found in the physical centre of their communities. In any town or village, the Irish public library is always on, or very close to, the main street, easily accessible to its community. Many, like the ILAC Centre in Dublin, or Douglas Library in Cork, are in shopping centers, or, as in Blanchardstown, beside the main shopping areas; even in small Irish towns, like Clifden, or in suburbs like Rathmines, public libraries have a prominent place on the main streets. Central locations are a hall-mark of the best public library services, such as those in Scandinavia, and very many American cities like Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles and the fantastic New York Public Library.
The Irish public libraries are not merely convenient for users – their presence on the main street is highly symbolic of a service which is, quite literally, at the centre of our communities. Despite the range of services being provided remotely, especially the many wonderful digital resources, especially for local history, or e-books and audio-books and online resources, Irish public libraries’ central locations demonstrates a commitment to a service which is literally ‘on the street where you live.’