Clare Library Branches Improve Access To Services For Elderly & People With Disabilities

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Tue Aug 28 2007

Library branches across Clare have been upgraded to allow elderly people and those with disabilities to gain easier access to library services.

Clare County Library sourced the new equipment after receiving funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, under the National Disability Strategy.

As well as a selection of large print books, the new equipment includes optical readers, walkers, orthopedic chairs, self-propelling wheelchairs, height-adjustable trolleys, magnifying machines, a selection of magnifying glasses and height-adjustable PC desks.

The equipment was sourced and purchased locally from the Ennis-based 'Aids to Independence'.

"Clare County Library has long been committed to the belief that the library is 'a space for all' and should be accessible to all people", stated Noel Crowley, County Librarian.

Mr. Crowley stated, "The equipment has been divided between all service points, with at least some items going to each branch library and the larger equipment going to the major libraries. This initiative is part of Clare County Library's on-going commitment to improving and developing library services for all the people of the community. It is anticipated that the introduction of the equipment will bring real improvements to the quality of life of older people."

Commenting on the new branch library in Scariff, due to open at the end of 2007, Mr. Crowley said, "The building has been designed with accessibility in mind and a variety of practical measures to facilitate this have been put in place. This includes provision of a platform lift and automated openers on sensors to entrance doors. An induction loop has been installed, as well as ramped external access and level access from rear of building. Contrasting colours in floor finishes and pedestrian routes make it easier for those with colour-blindness or other sight problems. Internal and external signage has been provided in accordance with the National Disability Authority guidelines."

Clare County Library's has also confirmed that it will continue to expand its 'Talking Books' service for the visually impaired, which is administered from the branch library in Kilrush. The service caters for a wide variety of reading interests, from Detective, Romance and Thriller titles, to biography, history and travel. There is no fee to register for this service, and each borrower is entitled to four books/tapes for an unlimited period of time. An Post allows for free postage of all items under this scheme. Further information is available from Kilrush Library at 065-9051504.

Noel Crowley explained, "This is a service of which the library is extremely proud, as it allows us to reach out into the lives of people and attempt to improve their quality of life."

Meanwhile, Clare County Library’s website at continues to be a much-used service. The online library catalogue has been in use for several years and is a valuable tool in increasing access to library services for people with disabilities, isolated rural dwellers and the general public.

"Without leaving your house, you can log in to your account using your library membership number, see a list of the books you have borrowed, and easily renew books you have on loan. You can place a reservation on a title you particularly want, and all from the comfort of your own home. In a further development, the entire website is now speech-enabled, via Browsealoud. Simply by scrolling your mouse over the text that you want to read, Browsealoud will read and speak what you require", concluded Mr. Crowley.

Browsealoud is a Windows Browser plug-in designed for use with Internet Explorer 5.5, Netscape Navigator 7, and Mozilla 1.7.3 upwards. You can control the voice, pitch and the speed. Furthermore, through magnification software the system provides access to a range of materials. The Virtual Magnifying Glass is a free, open source, screen magnification tool for Windows. Download it at Mg235_install.exe size: 139kB. It is simple, customizable, and easy-to-use.


Note to Editors:
- Noel Crowley (087-2349801) is available for interview and further comment.
- High-resolution panoramic image available on request.
- Clare County Library's website has recorded almost 2.4 million direct hits since it first went live in 1998. According to a survey by, the website is ranked at number 41 in an online poll of Ireland's 400 most popular websites. Recent additions to the Clare web portal include the Library Forum, Surnames Database, David Rumsey Maps, The Reading Challenge, Monuments of Clare; Standing Stones, Ecclesiastical Remains, Windmills & Tumuli - Clare Monuments; and Census Search Forms 1841 & 1851.

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
County Clare
00353-868534900 (Mobile)
00353-656839692 (Fax)
Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Mark Dunphy
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00353868534900

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