Cork City Libraries: Our stay at home service has lots to offer

Our libraries may be closed but that doesn’t mean you can’t access their great services. Here Senior Executive Librarian Patricia Looney outlines what is on offer from Cork City Libraries during the COVID-19 closures
Cork City Libraries: Our stay at home service has lots to offer
Liam Ronayne and  Patricia Looney from Cork City Libraries. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

IN these strange times, the staff in Cork City Libraries are doing everything possible to keep in contact with their users.

As a service which revolves around serving the communities of the city, we will continue to do that by introducing new initiatives and promoting our wonderful online services to keep everyone of all ages entertained, connected and informed.

Our stay-at-home library has so much to offer and all of the services are free!

Most popular at the moment is our film streaming service. We have teamed up with Cork International Film Festival to allow you to stay home, keep up the social distancing- and also enjoy cultural cinema from across Europe.

A total of 45 films are available including short films by local and national filmmakers whose work was presented in Cork at the Festivals from 2017 - 2019, as well as dozens of films from major European film festivals.

In these unprecedented times we are temporarily offering this to non-library members! For details contact

You can also use this time to discover your creative side. The Cork and Covid-19 creative writing initiative invites you to write a poem or short story (max 1000 words) giving us a snapshot of your life in these strange times. Poetry and stories are welcome from all ages and Cork City Libraries will compile and keep your work for our social history archives.

We have published a number of books at Cork City Libraries. Books include A Journey called Home; Poems and stories of new Corkonians, The Immortal Deed of Michael O’Leary by Cónal Creedon, The Statue: Cork and Monument to Father Matthew by Antoin O’Callaghan, The Lonely Voice by Frank O’Connor and creative writing tips from Billy O’Callaghan in Learning from the Greats: Lessons from the Great Writers. Most of these are available for you to download as a PDF.

As this is a family time for many of you, it may be a good time to consider tracing your family tree. We have some great tips on how to get started on our sister website at However, we cannot take responsibility for the skeletons in the closet you may discover!

As we reduce unnecessary trips to those shops and retail outlets that remain open, you can access newspapers and magazines online. PressReader is an online newspapers and magazines service, free to current library members. There are over 4,000 newspapers and over 2,000 magazines from around the world! RBdigital offers full-colour and interactive magazines to download to your computer, laptop, or mobile device. And of course adults and children can access eBooks and eAudiobooks also.

Why not use this free time to your advantage and learn new skills? Cork City Libraries Transparent Languages is an online language learning platform with over 100 languages, free with your library card. You can access Transparent Language on your desktop, or through the RBDigital app. Or check out Universal Class which has over 500 online educational courses in a wide range of subjects also free with your library card.

It is important to remember our mental as well as our physical health at this time and what better way to relax and unwind than by listening to music. Cork City Libraries’ music library is a unique public library service second to none in the country. While you cannot visit us at this time we are delighted to introduce you to Freegal! This is a music streaming service, free of charge for members of Cork City Libraries. It allows access to unlimited streaming of up to 16 million music tracks. You can also download five music tracks per week. Freegal also has music videos, and audiobooks.

Cork City libraries are the most used cultural spaces in our city, and host many exhibitions throughout the year, w ith 672 exhibition days in The City Library alone in 2019.

The Libraries host exhibitions from multinationals, NGO’s and community groups as well as curating many of our own exhibitions. These can be viewed online through our website and their varied themes have something to suit everyone. They include Unfinished Business: a century of women and women’s rights, A New Ireland Begins: the first Dáil, When Cork Drove Fords: 1917-1984 and The Stonewall Revolution: 50 years of LGBT liberation to mention just a few.

While we encourage you to use this time to be more creative it is also a time when the library staff is also discovering their creative side! Take the wonderful team in Ballincollig Library, Sineád, Paula and Richard who presented an entertaining online sing-a-long nursery rhyme session! We all look forward to some more.

As access to many of the online services are available only to library members, please take this opportunity to join. You can do this online and you can also contact Cork City Libraries at

Membership and access to all the above services is free! Our website is corkcitylibraries. ie Cork City Libraries will bring you many new initiatives in the coming days and weeks.

We encourage everyone to use our Stay at Home Library at this time and look forward to reopening our doors to you, as our libraries are lifeless and lonely places without you.


We were very saddened to learn of the death of local historian Ronnie Herlihy recently.

Ronnie was one of a group of local historians who met regularly in the Local Studies Library, he will be greatly missed by library staff and by the Cork local history community, and our sympathies are with his wife Anne and daughters.

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