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Cultural Inclusion and Social Cohesion

CHALLENGING IDEAS

The engagement of people in cultural experiences can happen at a variety of levels where the individual may engage as a passive consumer, or active producer or as influencer and decision maker. The extent to which individuals can engage at any level will be dependent on how well they can employ the ‘cultural literacy tools and discourses’ used in our everyday language and organisational procedures. These include:

A sense of confidence and belonging
Access to the language and social conventions
Verbal, reading and writing skills
Visual and tactile literacies
Ability to physically and intellectually engage

Our experience in Kildare has been that our integrated programmes with Arts, Archives, Local Studies and Ballitore museum as well as partnerships with other actors/agencies allows us to provide a broad range of ‘entry’ points for those not in a position to interact with traditional services. In seeking to provide an inclusive service we recognise that Cultural Inclusion is

“not the absence of conflict, but the ability to manage differences and deal with conflict when it arises”

(Gilchrist, A. 2004, Community Cohesion and Community Development: Bridges or Barricades. London. Community Development Foundation).

In terms of library services this means the provision of opportunities to appreciate, explore and debate difference and to foster an acceptance of diversity.

Cultural Inclusion challenges us to make library spaces, collections, programmes and opportunities accessible. Our buildings and vehicles must be physically and ‘intuitively’ accessible and welcoming. Our collections and programmes must likewise include a wide variety of formats reflecting the identities, interests and needs of the citizens we serve.

DONE

  • MAKING ACCESS HAPPEN – A project supported by the Equality Authority and An Chomhairle Leabharlanna which focused on delivering Library services to people with disability. Kildare was one of the four pilot areas
  • Ongoing refurbishment programme to ensure accessible buildings and fit-out
  • Review of stock selection policies to include multi-media accessible formats and online access as well as specialist software packages
  • Production of staff handbook to encourage positive proactive attitudes to dealing with disability
  • Production of two training programmes to support staff engagement with ‘changing minds’ and ‘changing practices’.
  • PICTUREOGS and THREADING TALES (see also page --)
  • Development of services to multi-cultural communities and individuals
  • Publication of Can’t Lose Cant, the language of Irish Travellers. This book is a children’s pictionary using Cant and English and Irish words
  • Digitisation of local historical material
  • Digital content development for primary school students in conjunction with An Chomhairle Leabharlann
  • Participation in lifesteps, a series of easy-to-use booklets on how to use the internet led by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna.
  • Public Internet Access points now available at all service points supported by Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and An Chomhairle Leabharlanna
  • Computerised Information Management System at 12 service points and at HQ
  • Additional Opening Hours

TO DO

  • Continue to actively participate in the realisation of a Countywide Anti-poverty strategy
  • Continue our annual rolling programme of physical access works to existing building stock
  • Continue to diversify collections to reflect different interests, abilities and backgrounds
  • Increase funding for bookstock and programmes which support cultural inclusion
  • Continue to organise outreach work which specifically focuses on non-traditional audiences and New Ethnic Communities with a view to promoting active library usage amongst these groups
  • Continue complimentary programming between libraries, arts services, Riverbank Arts Centre, local studies, genealogy, archives and museum to better serve existing audiences and to grow new audiences
  • Continue our commitment to publish lesser known cultures
  • Act as a ‘Community Ideas’ incubation, store and exchange for community development agencies and groups
  • Extend opening hours of our venues to allow people greater access to the services
  • Develop outreach programmes from Local Studies, Archives and Genealogical services to preserve, develop and promote identity and sense of place celebrating all traditions and cultures
  • Develop mobile learning resource unit for use in outreach programmes
  • Research and develop new ways of providing library services to small communities who cannot sustain a stand alone library
  • Continue to position libraries as community cultural and educational spaces in which people from different backgrounds, interests, ages and abilities can meet and actively participate in cultural engagement
  • Ensure that our buildings are designed to welcome people and to offer comfortable, sufficient and appropriate space

Serving Isolated Communities or those without a permanent library – The Mobile Library Service

The Mobile Library serves thirty-two communities in County Kildare ranging from small rural ‘cross-roads’ to small villages to urban communities. This service boasts the most loyal and regular groups of users with the library acting as meeting place as well as source of knowledge. In more remote areas the social importance of the service cannot be overestimated.

DONE

  • New stops at Allenwood, Naas Day Care Centre and Moore Abbey
  • New accessible vehicle provided in 2007 which accommodates a live link to library catalogues and to Internet for library users. Specialised storage which can carry multimedia formats and a very special area for children’s books and materials

TO DO

  • Extend service to include additional stops
  • Explore use of vehicle on a seasonal basis to provide storytime, reading promotion and marketing programmes