Drogheda Library follows the Ryanair Model

Think of Libraries as an early version of the internet, with books instead of pdf’s and web pages. You would think that as places of study , they would encourage student’s to use modern technology as part of revising for their Leaving Cert. Wrong.
Drogheda Borough Council Logo

Our local library in Drogheda has banned people from using laptops in the library. The excuse is that they can’t find a practical way of charging for the electricity they use. And don’t even think of asking for free wireless access. And all the student was asking for was a quick charge of his MacBook so he could do a final study session before his exam.
Forget about Web 2. If we don’t get the basics right we’re doomed.


The Drogheda Independent has just picked up on this story (almost word for word). More to follow.

Update 2.

O’Reilly Radar have a very interesting related story (If Libraries had shareholders) with detailed graphs showing how people are using libraries less and less for the books, and more and more for the internet


  1. Donncha,

    Thanks for the link


    They stopped him from using the plug – which given that he said he had no battery left , meant that he couldn’t study for his exams.

    The whole point of a library is to facilitate learning. Trouble is that student will be waiting 5 years for some policy to be written to allow him to do it.

    Talking of Ryanair, I have it on good authority that their latest cost saving measure is banning staff from chargine their mobile phones!


  2. To be fair to those in the library service – outside Drogheda – in Castlebar library they have a number of computers with free internet access available to anyone at anytime and have a very positive to the use of the internet as a tool for learning and communication

  3. Frank,

    Thanks for your comment, and I’m just after subscribing to your site 🙂

    Drogheda also has the ‘free internet access’ – they look like toasters with a screen attached. So why don’t they go the whole hog and allow wireless internet access? It’s a bit like the difference between using a payphone and using your own mobile : both will get you going, but which are you going to use in the long term?

    To me , it smacks a little bit of checking the boxes : ‘Ohh , we’re doing e-government – we’ve got a couple of computers’. But in the wider scheme of things (encouraging the information society) they’re being a bit short-sighted.

    While I appreciate not every student is fortunate enough to own their own laptop (and hence the toaster-connected to-the-internet is the best first step), for the sake of less than 100 Euro and a couple of plugs, they could take a huge step in fulfilling what a library should be: access to all knowledge in the best way possible.


  4. I’ve just encountered the same problem in a Dublin library – an employee has rudely demanded four laptop users to unplug from the wall sockets saying “We’re giving you free internet access, not free electricity”.

    From where I’m sitting in this very small library I can see 6 CRT displays guzzling energy and only being used intermittently for searching the catalogue, internet use, or video magnification. This library is wasting far more electricity than it would take to power four laptops – and that’s only what I can see from this chair.

    Books, tapes, DVDs, CDs, etc. really are a dead-end in learning and communication when compared to internet technologies such as the hyperlink, streaming video/audio, e-books, etc. – not to mention the environmental impact on our long-suffering earth of producing the materials used.

    The revolution will certainly not be printed.

  5. Neil,

    When you think of it, you’re paying your tax money so that somebody can be rude to you. Fine if you’re into S&M, but most of us can do without it.

    The revolution will not be printed, and will probably happen somewhere like Estonia where the Government does as a well as talks about doing things online.


  6. Go the Highlanes Gallery in St. Laurence Street, they provide free WIFI in the cafe, you will have to buy something to eat, but you will have free net access.

  7. Pat,

    I haven’t tried Highlanes for wifi yet (although I like it as a Cafe because it has a lot of light).

    Two other good wifi-enabled places in Drogheda are the D-Hotel and Bru , both beside the river.


  8. The same thing happened to me today in the Kerry library, i asked to plug in my laptop and the old lady behind the desk refused! when i asked why she said it was for “health and safety” reasons? when i asked what these h&s reasons were she told me to go use an internet cafe! I dont want the internet i want to be able to use my laptop in the library as my cases and files are on it! its so stupid, they charge for taking out books so shouldnt that money go towards facilitaing “free” electricity!

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