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Ring nominated for Europe-wide ‘Innovation in Politics Award’


WESTPORT native Michael Ring, TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, has been selected as a finalist in the Europe-wide Innovation in Politics Awards for introducing the Government’s new public library strategy: ‘Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’, which has led to an abolition of library fines and the increase of library opening hours in many libraries.
The Innovation in Politics Awards, which are run by the Vienna-based Innovation in Politics Institute, acknowledge and support public initiatives which make a difference in order to highlight innovation in Europe. Dublin City University is the partner institution for the awards in Ireland.
Out of over 400 nominations from across Europe, 80 finalists were selected by a jury of more than 1,000 citizens from all European countries.
Commenting on the nomination, Minister Ring said: “I am delighted to be a finalist in the Innovation in Politics Awards in particular for my Department’s role in supporting public libraries. Through our public library strategy we are working to make libraries more open and accessible, and better able to meet the needs of the public in an ever-changing society.
“The abolition of library fines, which came into effect in January of this year, will help reduce barriers to people using the library. We want to ensure that there are no deterrents to people of different backgrounds from getting the many benefit of library usage.
“The nomination also recognises the impact and potential of the new My Open Library service which introduces greatly expanded opening hours in many libraries.”
Longer opening hours
Under the My Open Library Initiative, libraries open from 8am to 10pm, 365 days per year. Fifteen libraries have already adopted the scheme which will extend to a hundred branches by end 2022.
Minister Ring continued: “We are increasing the opening hours in these libraries to meet the needs of people who have busy lives. Ultimately, we want more people to use the libraries and this is a practical and effective way of making that happen.”
Over the June Bank Holiday weekend of this year, 1,390 people used Deansgrange Library in County Dublin while another 811 used Dungarvan Library in Waterford.
Minister Ring continued: “It’s great to see this work getting recognition at a European level and I hope that it can inspire other countries in how they provide their library services.
“We have a world class public library service in Ireland and as Minister with responsibility for it I see and hear on a daily basis the good work we are doing transforming libraries into community hubs and providing services that reach out to our disadvantaged and marginalised communities as set out in our public library strategy.”
Last year the My Open Library service won the ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ category in the Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Awards.  The 2019 Innovation in Politics Awards Awards will be announced in Berlin on December 4.