25th Anniversary Series Blog 9

25th Anniversary Series Blog 9

25th Anniversary Competition –

What Your Local Fingal Library Means to You

Over the summer months of July and August, Fingal Libraries have celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Fingal County Council through this commemorative blog series, where we traced the inception and continuing development of public libraries in Ireland over the past 300 years.

The series explored the history of our public libraries, detailing their rise and revealing the service’s growth in tandem with a changing society—often during challenging times. We looked at how public libraries are vitally interlinked with society and how the institution successfully responded to societal needs across centuries of change, all while supporting and facilitating great leaps in Irish peoples’ perceptions and understanding of their own country and the wider world around them. We investigated how libraries have been an ever-evolving entity, a focal point for communal change and advancement, always present at the core of communities, acknowledging, reacting and replying to the people they serve.

And so it seems only fitting to hand over the content of our final blog of the series to the patrons of Fingal libraries!

At the beginning of this celebratory event, we invited you, the community of Fingal, to have your say on your public library service. We encouraged you to participate in our competition event where we offered categories for all ages – from the young to the not so young – to get involved and tell us how you feel about your Fingal libraries and what they mean to you. The response to the competitions across all ten branches was tremendous, and today we are delighted to take this opportunity to share with all a sample of the winning entries and how they expressed their relationship with the Fingal Public Library service.

The theme of our competition was ‘What your local Fingal Library means to you’. These are a sample of all the engaging and interesting entries.

Ages 0 – 6 years: Colouring Page Competition

In this colouring page competition for our younger patrons, we designed a poster depicting a jubilant scene featuring a clever fox, a curious cat, a wise owl and a bookworm, and asked you to join in their fun by bringing to whole scene to life with a splash of vibrant colour. Well, were we amazed by all the fantastic entries we received. We knew all our young patrons were extremely talented, of course, but we were absolutely astounded by just how imaginative, expressive and playful every little person was with their use of colour. We know you will agree. Enjoy!


Ages 7 – 11: Drawing Competition

For our older kids, we asked you to draw what your local Fingal Library means to you, and were astonished by not only the level of artistry which was returned, but the array of interests and library resources used by our young patrons. Entries ranged from portrayals of favourite stories and characters, books on popular interests, and participation in library events and workshops to use of digital resources and educational events and courses at the library and much, much more!! It’s clear our young patrons make great use of the libraries and view them as places central to learning, fun, creativity and resourcefulness, to be enjoyed with family and friends.

Ages 12 – 17: Young Adults Blurb

Our Young Adults returned a range of responses on how Fingal Public Library services offer a myriad of useful resources to their lives. The library space, in and of itself, proves invaluable as a gathering place to meet with friends—a location which is always free, safe and welcoming. Of particular interest are digital resources, often too expensive for individual purchase, whereby students access global networks for communication, learning and hobbies; work on projects for school curricula or individual interest; and discover and hone practical and transferrable skills for the future. Our comprehensive range of fiction, and especially non-fiction books—particularly our Jigsaw collection (offering a range of mental-health–related topics)—prove to be popular throughout this age group, displaying the extensive literary attractions and diverse interests of our young population, all catered to at their public library.

A wonderfully unique and inspiring take on public libraries from one of our young adult patrons of Baldoyle Library – Realta McShane.

Garristown Library patron, Sinéad Evuarherhe, spoke of her love for reading and how her local library provides all the books she can enjoy, plus computer access for researching!


Sylvia O’ Reilly, a young adult patron of Swords Library, commented, ‘I like to go to my local library after school where I hang out with my friends and we get our homework done together. We can use the books at the library for study and sometimes we use the free WiFi to research projects for school on our phones, and we can use the public computers to print anything we need. It’s fun and we can chat and catch up. I get movies out for the weekend to watch with my parents and sister. When we go on holiday we get travel guides and lots of books to bring with us and read, especially if it’s going to rain.’

Adults 18+: Short Essay Competition

Our adult patrons spoke to the many advantages of their public library service in terms of individual interest, serving their family’s needs, as well as broader community interests. Fingal Libraries served as a meeting point for friends, a place of lifelong learning, a place to indulge in the latest best reads, and a place to educate and provide fun for their children. Most strikingly, many stories revealed a lifelong rapport with their local public library, having fostered a relationship from early childhood.

Mrs Isobel Smyth, a patron of Malahide Library, submitted an absorbing and uplifting cross-generational piece detailing the beginnings of her own relationship with her public library service from a young age, and how she fostered the same interest in her own children, and now grandchildren, she says:

‘One of my earliest memories of the library is hearing my granny’s voice call after us from the front door of our house “Bring me back Clark Gable or Errol Flynn!” My brother and I struggled down the garden path, buckling at the knees from the weight of the heavy bag of library books we carried between us… We were on our way to return books and borrow more and my brother memorised the list aloud as we walked.’

‘The library has always played a big part in my life; even before I was old enough to join the library (seven years old I think at the time) I was taken along by my older brothers and sister… I was delighted and felt so grown-up when I was finally old enough to have my own library card and no longer had to rely on my siblings to borrow a Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton book for me.’

‘Back then the library was a place of hushed tones and whispers. Now, it is a hive of activity with children happily chatting as they leaf through the pages of books while students work diligently on computers with their text books spread around them. People seated in comfortable chairs catch up with world-wide events as they read the morning newspapers, browse through magazines or study the information leaflets.’

‘From time to time I’ve availed of classes with the library. Spanish conversation has sorted out my menu del dia dilemmas and writing workshops have helped the budding memoir writer in me with valuable tips and exercises.’

‘Online courses have been a great addition to the library’s services and I am steadily working my way through the many subjects available… I can also read magazines online, take a language class or art class and listen to music. With my library card the opportunities are endless for lifelong learning.’

‘As a mother I encouraged my children to use the library and took pleasure in bringing them along to borrow and return books, now as a grandmother I’m delighted to see my grandchildren’s love of books fulfilled by regular visits to their local library.’

A lifelong patron of Swords Library, Marie Moffitt returned a piece both poignant and inspirational, reminiscing on how her local public library has taking her from all the wonders of childhood reads to fulfilling her lifelong ambition in later years, she says:

Swords Library is for me, a cornerstone of my community. I have been a member since I was six years old. I joined initially in North Street, which was ably run by Mr Lowndes and Mrs Kane. I remember the excitement of climbing the stairs and never quite knowing what treasure I would leave with. The library itself was small and cosy, and always had a huge fire blazing in the grate during the winter. There was a big wooden table where all the borrowing and returns were managed, and of course everything was conducted with pen and paper’

‘Books had always been a part of my life as my Dad was an avid reader and had stimulated this interest early on. This remained a constant in his life, as indeed it does in mine now.’

‘Like everything in life there have been a lot of changes in how my local library operates… However, while it has altered in some ways, in others it still carries on as Mr. Carnegie himself had envisioned all those years ago.’

‘It is a vibrant spot, a social hub that appeals to everyone. Toddlers enjoying a story time, older children participating in arts and crafts, young students revising for exams, school leavers using computers to apply for college places, the stalwart of book borrowers, the newspapers and magazines readers all use Rathbeale Library’

‘Last year, at the young age of sixty-three I completed a lifelong ambition. I graduated from DCU with a degree in English Literature. When I say my local library was invaluable during my four years of study, I am perhaps undervaluing the huge resource it afforded me. I had a wealth of material available to me from every library in Ireland. The staff were helpful and encouraging, which was a great comfort especially when exams were looming. It also provided a quiet space to study and read.’

‘I still get that rush of excitement when I open a new book and I am hooked in by an author’s words. It is as Dr Seuss said all those years ago “Reading can take you places you have never been before when you have to stay where you are.’

Fascinating and thoughtful words from our valued library patrons, and we think you will all agree we have some especially talented writers in our midst!

And so we conclude our 25th Anniversary Blog series, showcasing the words and talents of our many patrons. We thank you for so generously sharing your thoughts and feedback with us as we continue to serve you and our local communities in the tradition of which we are proud.

 Laura Flanagan, Fingal Libraries