Libraries in Ireland are a great resource that could be used a lot more, but if they are used more or not will probably have no impact on society or the economy or the happiness of the nation whatsoever. Reading books is a good thing but there are many ways you can read books and you can get your books. In my opinion the E-Book and Audio book selection has to be expanded significantly and the libraries should allow the users to suggest specific e- and audiobooks for purchase, but apart from that there is not much that needs to change.

Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development , seems to think differently and I have to speculate that it comes from having nothing else to do in his department. Ring thinks that operating hours for libraries should be extended to 08:00-22:00 on 365 days a year (Who wants to be in a library at 21:00 on Christmas Eve!?!?) and he things that library fines have to go! At the moment the use of libraries is completely free and ONLY if you keep a physical book longer than the allowed loan period of three weeks (I think!) you have to pay a small, but increasing fine when you bring the book back. The purpose of the fine is to make sure that people bring the book back in time. But Ring thinks that it keeps people away from libraries.

In an ideal world nobody will steal and everybody will love thy neighbours. But unfortunately the world is not ideal. That’s why we have laws. And in the same way as there will always be people (including politicians) that will try to “minimise” their tax payments, there will always people that will forget to bring back some or all of their loaned books.

I think we should abolish library fines when we abolish fines for under declaring taxes.

Ring thinks people will bring books back even if there are no fines because the libraries are owned by the communities: Ring thinks people will still return books even if there is no fine.

He said: “I think people will respect the libraries because as I say it is not Government it is community, it is belonging to the people and we want to make these community hubs for the future.”

Is he deluded or absolutely right? What do you think?