Primary School Library Services

Library services to primary schools are provided by the public library authorities.

From 1970/71 until 2008 the Department of Education supported this service through the provision of a per capita grant based on the number of primary school pupils. This grant was ring-fenced exclusively for the purchase of books and other media, while the library authorities bore the expense of managing and administering the service, including staff costs, transport and other overheads. It has been estimated that the DoE grant represented less than half of the overall cost of operating the services to primary schools, the remainder being borne by the library authorities.

In 2007, the capitation paid to public library authorities was €4.52 per pupil, a national total of just over €2 million.

In 2008 the then Department of Education and Science stopped the grant scheme completely and no longer considers the provision of library services to primary schools to be part of their direct role.

On August 3 2010, the Department of Education and Skills revealed the latest Sats results, which showed that reading standards among primary school pupils had dropped by 16 per cent.

Public library authorities continue to explore ways of maintaining some level of service.


Select list of publications


  • Young people and public libraries in Ireland: issues and opportunities. Dublin: Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, 2010.
  • The school library in the 21st century: an agenda for change: Policy statement. Dublin: School Library Association, Republic of Ireland, 2004.
  • John Coolahan. Unrealised potential: the relationship of schools with the library service; in The university of the people: celebrating Ireland’s public libraries. Dublin: An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, 2004. p. 143-164. ISBN: 1-873512-10-4.
  • Library file: making a success of the school library, edited by Valerie Coghlan, Patricia Quigley and Rosemary Walton. Dublin: Library Association of Ireland, 1999. ISBN: 0-94603-736-1.
  • School libraries: guidelines for good practice, School Library Development Ad-hoc Committee. Dublin: Library Association of Ireland, 1994.ISBN: 0-94603-724-8.
  • Valerie Coghlan. Education’s engine room: the school library in Commitment to quality: proceedings of an Irish Joint Conference… Dublin: Library Association of Ireland, 1994.p.14-22


  • The public library and the school: policies and prospects for library services to primary schools in Ireland.  Dublin: An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, 2010.  (Public Library Research Programme report; 4) ISBN; 978-1-873512-38-8.
  • Deirdre Haslett. The borrowers at school: a report on primary school libraries. Dublin: Library Association of Ireland, 2002. ISBN: 0-946037-40X.


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