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Ideas Matter comes at a crucial time in the development of County Kildare. The preliminary report of the census 2006 confirms Kildare as one of the three fastest growing counties in Leinster, and likely to reach a population of 250,000 by 2021. (Rural-Urban Dynamics in Kildare: Socio-economic patterns and trends, Kildare County Development Board, 2006).

The county is part of the Greater Dublin Area yet conversely, much of the county boundary is shared with Counties that are part of the Objective One BMW region. The North East is influenced heavily by its proximity to Dublin while the West and South are more rural. As one of the key public agencies charged with civic leadership and cultural/community development, Kildare County council recognises the importance of quality of life in the context of a fast changing cultural environment. This is recognised as a key goal in development strategies. The further development of Library Services within the County is therefore central to providing inclusive cultural and educational opportunities and as a force for social/cultural cohesion. This chimes with the finding of ‘Branching Out: A New Public Library Service’ whereby “almost all reports and studies dealing with the information society” recognises that access to information, knowledge and cultural products promotes economic, social and cultural integration.

The visioning of ‘IDEAS MATTER’ has been informed by research and consultation with key stakeholders of the various services and programmes through the County Development Board Structures, LURD Strategic Policy Committee, the Corporate Policy Group and the Members of Kildare County Council.

Developing a coherent identity for Kildare is also seen by Kildare County Council as central to the promotion of Quality of Life. Libraries are freely accessible places and spaces which provide equitable access to ideas, information, knowledge, life options and learning opportunities. The public library movement has emerged from an ethos that is about underpinning democracy by providing citizens with a public well-spring of ideas and knowledge. As such it acts as a strategic publicly funded, non-prejudiced force for active citizenship. As Library Services develop in the County they are poised to be a critical intervention in the cultural life of County Kildare at a time when National and Local Government is concerned about civic leadership and engagement, about encouraging relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people, about positive community relations and healthy sustainable communities. (Towards 2016, Ten-year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015). Kildare County Council welcomes the report “The Arts, Cultural Inclusion and Social Cohesion” by NESF which positions libraries as a strategic community cultural services for the country.

The development of a new Central Library for the County at Newbridge is one of the highlights of this plan. As innovator and ‘tester’ of best practice it will have a direct impact on the enhancement of Library and Arts Services countywide.

Elected members and the Local, Urban, Rural Development Strategic Policy Committee are committed to the Strategic Objectives set out in this plan. Kildare County Council will support Library Development in the County through financial provision and other assistance. We acknowledge the ongoing contribution of elected members, LURD SPC, staff and citizens who have informed this plan.

Cllr. Fiona O’ Loughlin, Chair of the Local, Urban, Rural Development Strategic Policy Group

Cllr. Mary Glennon, Mayor of kildare

Michael Malone, County Manager, Kildare County Council

Des Page, Director of Services, Corporate, Cultural and Environmental Affairs